Globalization and the Concept of Women Human and Political Rights

The issue of globalization and its wide ranging effects has been a
controversial and relatively heated one in the recent times. This is
especially considering that different countries will be affected in a
different manner by the concept given the different contexts of its
application. However, recent times have seen an increase in the interest
of scholars with the impact of globalization on women especially in
developing countries. Needless to say, women have since time immemorial
occupied a disadvantaged position in the society. Underlining this fact
is the statement that women carry out two thirds of all work in the
world, but receive only 10% of the total world’s income while owning
only one percent of the entire globe’s means of production. Their
disadvantaged status in the society despite the unique position that
they hold in the society may be credited to the varied social
impediments and barriers. Scholars have noted that women are usually the
least privileged and most exploited members of any household, not to
mention that they are usually overburdened by domestic work in their
families thanks to their position as primary caregivers. Nevertheless,
women issues have consistently acquired importance in all countries,
notwithstanding their second class position in varied societies, thanks
to the exposure and increased awareness on the impact of gender
discrimination in economic, political, social and employment arenas.
Indeed, women have strived to fight against entrenched interests
pertaining to community benefits, and gone ahead to earn a new identity
via their collective strength. Women right across the globe come as a
crucial indicator of the increased comprehension of global wellbeing.
However, there have been questions as to the effects of globalization on
the conceptualization of human rights and political rights of women.
While there may be differing opinions as to these effects, globalization
has defined the human and political rights of women, thereby assisting
in the elimination of barriers and oppression while empowering them to
take charge of their lives in a global democracy.
There exist varied definitions of globalization with the most accepted
definition being a “complex cultural, geographic, political and
economic process that has allowed the mobility of organizations,
capital, peoples, discourses and ideas to take up a transnational or
global form. It may be seen as a situation where national economies
undertake international integration, i.e. the process that unifies all
people in the world into a single society (Bayes & Tawḥīdī, 2001).
It essentially embodies the integration or amalgamation of international
markets for services, goods, technology, labor and finance. In this
case, multinational corporations come as the drivers of globalization,
with scholars noting that they play a key role in the integration of
world economies via investment, transfer, relocation of business
activities, finance, trade and technology. At the minimum, globalization
revolves around the creation or establishment of a world economy that is
a powerful, autonomous entity rather than a sum of the national
economies. This is created through the world market and the
international division of labor, which is currently predominating the
national market (Rowbotham & Linkogle, 2001). The globalization process
is defined by long-term, large scale flow of capital, technology, labor
and commodities across international and national boundaries. While this
seems to take on a largely economic aspect, globalization affects varied
aspects of societies including social and cultural aspects. This is
especially considering the interactions between social beings from
different parts of the world.
First, scholars have noted that globalization has provided the platform
through which women movements can organize across varied parts of the
globe and air their views, as well as their plight. Indeed,
globalization has given life to a previously unimaginable capacity of
women to organize across varied continents, as well as mobilize
international solidarity within minutes. Indeed, connections that were
crafted and strengthened among organizations and women at the Beijing
Convention in 1995 have persisted since then with the internet creating
a more permanent and effective capacity to network (Naples & Desai,
2002). Researchers note that action alert campaigns aimed at defending
women against being mutilated, flogged or stoned have been immensely
amplified through the social media and the internet, just as have
interventions that demand justice for women that have been killed, raped
and beaten with impunity (Naples & Desai, 2002). Testament to the
effectiveness of globalization in tackling social norms that keep women
down are the online campaigns that protested against the systematic
destruction of women via gender apartheid in Afghanistan, the damaging
role that UN peacekeeping missions have played in encouraging
trafficking and prostitution, as well as the failure by the Vatican to
take action against sexual violation of nuns by their priests, all of
which raised awareness of the issues and resulted in public pressure to
put an end to the violation of women’s human rights (Naples & Desai,
On the same note, women have, using internet, had a significantly
active voice in international forums such as the United Nations
(Moghadam et al, 2005). Recent times have seen an increase in the calls
for enhanced representation of women from across the globe, which has
resulted in an active exchange of ideas for increased international
campaigns towards the inclusion of women in the highest echelons of
decision-making in such intergovernmental organizations, as well as
affirmative action at the national level. Scholars note that the efforts
have essentially resulted in strongly positive results (Moghadam et al,
2005). For example, there is no coincidence in the fact that two of the
most significant judgments pertaining to sexual violence made by the ad
hoc international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia were made
by trial chambers that were comprised of at least one woman (Naples &
Desai, 2002). Indeed, increased pressure and campaign from women
movements have resulted in the unequivocal call for gender
representation in the judiciary at the International Criminal Court, as
well as unequivocal inclusion of crimes pertaining to sexual violence
(Moghadam et al, 2005). This inclusion in the higher echelons of the
international bodies has given them the capacity to make decisions that
would protect women against social norms and ills that have kept them
down since time immemorial, as well as provide them with a platform from
which they get to air their views and make policies that would lessen
the burden of oppression that has been keeping them down for a long time
(Moghadam et al, 2005). Indeed, participation in such high-profile
organizations has eliminated a large number of myths in varied societies
pertaining to the limited capabilities of women, both in terms of
physical and emotional strength, as well as intellectual aptitude, as
they have been shown to have similar capabilities with their male
counterparts or, in some instances, better capabilities than their male
counterparts (Naples & Desai, 2002).
In addition, globalization has immensely affected trade, which in turn
has had an impact on production, consumption, employment, and
distribution patterns, social relations, the environment and cultural
values, all of which affect both genders (Moghadam et al, 2005).
Increased world trade has resulted in increased demand for cheap labor,
with women being the obvious choice thanks to their previous
“second-class” status in the past. While this may have been seen as
a negative effect, it essentially resulted in the increased
participation of women in varied professions and occupations in the
service sectors (Moghadam et al, 2005). Indeed, women across the globe
have made tremendous inroad in professional services like banking,
computing, law and accounting, alongside tourism-related occupations,
information services and many more. On the same note, the integration or
blending of national economies to make a single global economy is
increasingly modifying the formulation, as well as implementation of
policies shifting the processes from the national and local levels to
the global or international level. In this case, increased modification
of governance to an international-focused one undermines the
conventional notion of citizenship thereby providing women movements
with significant ground for promoting their claims for equal rights and
civil identity (Moghadam et al, 2005). Scholars note that new players
below and above the nation state have been increasingly asserting
alternative roles and identities for women, which has ended up giving
them a new form of political citizenship (Rowbotham & Linkogle, 2001).
On the same note, globalization has been creating an unprecedented
comprehension of the fact that social and economic rights are a
component of the discourse of international human rights. Similarly,
there has been an increase in the force of international movement of
women, as well as their influence on the varied intergovernmental
processes, which has empowered them and created space for organizations
of women at both the national and local level, not to mention the
international level (Rowbotham & Linkogle, 2001). Needless to say,
increased employment and participation of women in the employment sector
comes with a chance for higher wages, which, in effect, raises their
self-confidence and allows them to be autonomous. This independence
would, in turn, promote equality of sexes, a milestone that a large
number of women across the globe have been struggling to achieve for a
long time (Rowbotham & Linkogle, 2001). In this regard, globalization
would be seen as incorporating the power to eliminate the traditional
views and treatment that is accorded to women, thereby affording them an
equal opportunity in the society and national building.
Lastly, the economic modifications with which globalization has come
has had the capacity to sow the seeds for the transformation of cultures
thereby enhancing the conditions with which women must deal. Impressive
studies on public attitudes about gender roles show that economic growth
makes only a small component of the story, with substantial modification
of the social norms, values and beliefs playing a key or fundamental
role in enhancing the role of women in politics and society. The
researchers noted that postindustrial and industrial nations have had a
higher likelihood of supporting gender equality compared to agrarian
nations, which essentially underlines the role that technological shift
during globalization promotes gender equality. In addition, the
increased participation of women in employment has resulted in
considerably more supportive attitudes to gender or women equality,
which then offers a significantly fertile opportunity or platform for
the making of concrete policies that would assist women in gaining equal
opportunities and rights (Moghadam et al, 2005). In this regard,
scholars have underlined that economic globalization enhances the
physical quality of life for women and comes up with extra options for
them both in their professional and social life, not to mention their
family life. This, however, is subject to the limits that economic
globalization would increase the availability of opportunities for work
for women, thereby increasing their autonomous earnings. On the same
note, to the extent that the increased trade opportunities resulting
from globalization would generally enhance economic growth, it would
enhance the literacy and measured life expectancy of life for women
(Brysk, 2002). While there may be some downsides to such economic
integration such as displacement and the fact that women would still
make the largest proportion of individuals that are poorly paid,
independent economic opportunities and resources would provide women
with more choices and independence, thereby giving them more control
over their lives, as well as offer them the agency to strive to get
their collective interests. On the same note, a large number of women in
the past were relegated to the position of domestic unpaid workers,
especially considering that they were primarily thought as being
deficient of any intellectual aptitude or even physical and emotional
strength to take on jobs in other sectors such as corporations (Brysk,
2002). In some cases, women even today have had to grapple with the
prospects of resigning from their jobs to undertake home duties.
However, globalization has allowed for the entry of other professions
that are relatively flexible thereby allowing women to work from any
place, in which case they would not have to abandon their work just to
look after their kids or engage in other home-making duties (Bayes &
Tawḥīdī, 2001). This means that they have become considerably
independent unlike in the past when they had to depend on their male
counterparts as they could no longer cope with the pressures of the
workplace and those from their homes or family backgrounds (Brysk,
2002). With such independence, it goes without saying that women would
essentially have the capacity to make decisions and shape their lives in
the manner that they want.
&& Tawḥīdī, 2001). On the same note, it has allowed for the entry
of technology that essentially allows them to work from anywhere in
which case they do not have to sacrifice their motherly duties so as to
work. This only ends up enhancing their economic independence and their
capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Kerr, J. (2003). Women reinventing globalisation. Oxford: Oxfam.
Bayes, J. H., & Tawḥīdī, N. (2001). Globalization, gender, and
religion: The politics of women`s rights in Catholic and Muslim
contexts. New York: Palgrave.
Naples, N. A., & Desai, M. (2002). Women`s Activism and Globalization:
Linking Local Struggles and Global Politics. London: Routledge.
Brysk, A. (2002). Globalization and human rights. Berkeley [u.a.: Univ.
of California Press.
Moghadam, V. M., & American Council of Learned Societies. (2005).
Globalizing women: Transnational feminist networks. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press.
Rowbotham, S., & Linkogle, S. (2001). Women resist globalisation:
Mobilising for livelihood and rights. New York: Zed Books.

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