The effects of globalization on women should be assessed in light of multiple roles as the reproductive and productive labor, and their contribution towards community welfare and cohesion as well as in maintaining the social fabric in the society. Due to the deep-rooted differences in social-cultural expectations and gender roles, the effects of economic globalization are felt differently among men and women. These effects have been more distinct in third world countries than in the developing countries. The two major effects of economic globalization on women are: structural adjustment programs and social roles of women and trade liberalization (Thorin, 2003, p. 8).
The structural adjustment programs that were promoted by the IMF and the World Bank have affected women deeply. Removal of subsidies for health services, education, health and other social services have resulted in the transfer of welfare responsibilities from the state to the family, particular women. Because of the roles of women as caregivers, this social welfare function has been borne by women. When the cost of health goes up, for example, poor families heavily rely on the traditional or informal form of health care that is provided by the female members of the society. When the cost of education shoots up, it is factual that girls are the ones forced to drop out of school than boys. This has the implications on the future employability of women and negatively affects their position in the wage labor market. Furthermore, the increases in the fuel, food and essential services price places extra economic burden on women because they are considered responsible for managing and regulating domestic consumption. Women are expected to perform domestic chores as child care; cooking and cleaning hence they cannot find time to work in the formal wage-labor market (Thorin, 2003, 8).
Another effect of economic globalization on women is trade liberalization. This has been demonstrated to have differential impacts on women. The critical aspect of trade liberalization comes from export competitiveness; this competitiveness is derived from female labor. Industrialization is often premised on cheap, unskilled and docile labor that is willing to work for long hours under low wages. This makes women the prime target for this cheap labor. Women account for much of the labor in the manufacturing sector; this sector contributes more to the GDP of most countries. Women labor is considered a form of comparative advantage in export oriented sectors because governments invite investors to play a key role in the manufacturing sector as a measure of integration itself to global and regional economies. Whereas manufacturing industry provides women with employment opportunities, this sector is often unregulated, and the competitiveness of the sector implies that the labor of women is unprotected, yet dispensable (Harley, 2007, 153).
Women are also active players in the informal sector. This is not often captured in major economic surveys and does not account for Gross Domestic Product for respective countries because women undertake such activities in their small community or homes. Most of these activities include the sale of vegetables, provision of domestic services and selling of locally processed foods. Most of the activities in the informal sector are not marketized or commercialized; hence their efforts go unrecognized and do not form part of key economic indicators. This informalization of female labor is the negative effect of economic globalization on women. Women are forced to balance between their reproductive and productive responsibilities; this makes them peripheral in contribution to economic developments (Thorin, 2003, p. 9).
Harley, S. (2007). Women's labor in the global economy: speaking in multiple voices. New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.], Rutgers Univ. Press.
Thorin, M. (2003). The gender dimension of economic globalization: an annotated bibliography. Santiago de Chile, United Nations.