Friday, February 13, 2004

Women and global trade

Via wood s lot, an Oxfam report (in .pdf format): "Trading Away Our Rights: Women Working in Global Supply Chains."
Globalisation has drawn millions of women into paid employment across the developing world. Today, supermarkets and clothing stores source the products that they sell from farms and factories worldwide. At the end of their supply chains, the majority of the workers—picking and packing fruit, sewing garments, cutting flowers—are women. [...]

Commonly hired on short-term contracts—or with no contract at all—women are working at high speed for low wages in unhealthy conditions. They are forced to put in long hours to earn enough to get by. Most have no sick leave or maternity leave, few are enrolled in health or unemployment schemes, and fewer still have savings for the future. [...]

The harsh reality faced by women workers highlights one of the glaring failures of the current model of globalisation. Over the past 20 years, the legal rights of powerful corporate entities have been dramatically deepened and extended. [...] Workers' rights have moved in the opposite direction. And it is no coincidence that the rise of the 'flexible' worker has been accompanied by the rise of the female, often migrant, worker. The result is that corporate rights are becoming even stronger, while poor people's rights and protections at work are being weakened, and women are paying the social cost.
From the opening paragraphs of the report. There is also a much shorter summary of the report available.

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