Unformatted text preview: Women Working in the Global Economy: A Feminist Perspective
Professor Yana Rodgers Women’s and Gender Studies Department Class 8: Women and the Informalization of Work The Informal Sector Organization
1. Introductory remarks about informal sector 2. Sex work in the global economy 3. Maids, mothers, and workers 4. Microcredit: background 5. Microcredit, small enterprises, and homework 6. Concluding remarks Introductory remarks
• Segmented labor markets: 3-tiered employment structure • urban formal: highest wages, organized, regulated • urban informal: lower wages than formal sector, unorganized, unregulated
– On average, 60-66% female (Barker and Feiner: 118) – Small levels of start-up capital, minimal skill requirements – Already large in LDCs (40-45% of GDP), growing rapidly in transition economies (19-67% of GDP), re-emerging in OECD (20% of GDP) • rural sector: particularly big in developing countries; lowest wages Introductory remarks
• Inequalities in the labor market by race, class, and gender have persisted in the face of increasing world integration and economic growth • Inequalities persist in the face of increased integration in the world economy, compounded by increased tendency to make labor more flexible • Types of labor force attachment traditionally associated with women (irregular, casual, and temporary work) have been spreading relative to the types associated with men (regular, stable, unionized). • Globalization has contributed to growth of the sex industry and gendered consumption: needs and wants of men create demand for sexual services from women, men, and children Sex Work in the Global Economy
• Economic hardships and dislocations accompanying globalization have created conditions where sex work is an increasingly viable option. • Better paid, more flexible, and less time-consuming than factory work • Chosen by women from a desperately limited range of options • Decisions to engage in sex work closely related to broader economic conditions: international travel of sex workers and sex customers now easier; countries in greater need of foreign exchange earnings. • Big problem: Trafficking and prostitution of children; root causes are poverty, lack of economic opportunities, lack of national and international policies to protect children, and strong demand. • Debate between legalizing prostitution and decriminalizing it. Maids, Mothers, and Workers
• Globalization has also contributed to growth of informal sector work as domestics: housekeepers and nannies. • Like sex workers, domestics also subject to abuse from employers, violations of rights, and invisibility to most labor standards • Also conditions of low pay, long hours, no rights, lowstatus work. • Barker and Feiner point out: LDC governments should have a significant interest in economics of migrant domestic workers: migration reduces unemployment, generates foreign exchange, and allows governments to spend less on social services that benefit poor families • Host governments also benefit: they don’t need to spend as much to support child care and elder care. Microcredit: Background Microcredit:
• Nobel Peace Prize award (2006) went to Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel banker and economist who founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh banker • Recognized his contributions in developing the idea of Recognized microfinance microfinance • Small loans to low-income people (mostly women) in developing Small countries to start their own businesses. countries Proliferation of microfinance has been the fodder for many economics Proliferation studies studies Origins: Started in 1976 by Dr. Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh with his Origins: own money, became the Grameen Bank own Today Grameen Bank serves more than six million poor families with Today loans, savings, insurance and other services. loans, Grameen Bank fully owned by its clients and is a model for microfinance Grameen institutions around the world, including US institutions Spread with fairly small, independent programs in Latin America and Spread South Asia during the 1970s. South • • • • Microcredit: Background Microcredit: Background Since 1970s, movement has provided approximately 65 Since million low-income individuals around the globe with: million
access – access to small loans without collateral, and opportunities – opportunities to acquire assets and purchase insurance How is microfinance different from conventional banking? Idea – Idea of group lending: microfinance institutions make loans to individuals who are members of a group individuals – Group members are poor and have no credit history or collateral. Sometimes – Sometimes group members need to provide evidence of literacy – Peer pressure serves as an incentive for loan repayment.
– If all group members repay their loans, then they can apply for more loans – Sometimes group members take turns receiving a loan – Cannot get loans from conventional banks – Sometimes live in remote villages with no banking sector Microcredit: Background Microcredit: Background How is microfinance different from conventional banking? Repayment – Repayment responsibility rests with individuals, but group members try to ensure that everyone acts in a responsible way and does not get into repayment difficulties way Loan – Loan recovery (pay back) rates are typically higher than conventional banks conventional
– Current loan recovery rate for Grameen Bank is 98%. Loans – Loans are often very small and used to finance small business start-ups (entrepreneurship) business
Loan – Loan recipients do pay interest rates Rates – Rates typically higher than what conventional banks would charge (if these people could get such a loan) charge – Rates typically lower than what loan sharks would charge Microcredit, Small Enterprises, and Homework Microcredit, Mainstream economists’ assessments of microfinance are generally positive Mainstream for reducing poverty, stimulating entrepreneurship, and giving women more autonomy. autonomy. Barker and Feiner’s criticisms: Within-household – Within-household difficulties: if loans target women, may cause problems between spouses (jealousy, men forcing women to give them the money). between Such – Such programs rest on individuals’ (poor women’s) own efforts to get out of poverty. • may subvert the government funding for poverty reduction and signal may hardship for the poor – Microfinance has become a magnet for large financial-sector firms • they view the relatively high interest rates as profitable Concluding remarks
• Some generalizations about the impact of globalization on the informalization of work:
• New employment contracts are less stable. • Employment has shifted from core to periphery activities in smaller firms. • Reduction in hierarchical levels within firms. • Work has become more informal, temporary, and part-time. • Unemployment has increased • Formally underground production processes are now regular parts of the economy; sub-par labor conditions have been normalized. • Growing gaps across countries between skilled and unskilled workers. • Higher labor turnover rates and declining morale • Short-term strategies by firms or gov’ts cause choice of the “low road” instead of the “high road” to development. ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2011 for the course WOMENS SST 160 taught by Professor Rodgers during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '11