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The struggle for jobs, rights and democracy in a globalized world: Focus on rural women in Africa Vishanthie Sewpaul (PhD) Senior Professor: UKZN President:

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Presentation on theme: "The struggle for jobs, rights and democracy in a globalized world: Focus on rural women in Africa Vishanthie Sewpaul (PhD) Senior Professor: UKZN President:"— Presentation transcript:

1 The struggle for jobs, rights and democracy in a globalized world: Focus on rural women in Africa Vishanthie Sewpaul (PhD) Senior Professor: UKZN President: NASW, SA Chair: ASASWEI

2 ILO 2008 Global employment trends Globalization and technological changes are impacting labour markets around the world Economic integration and progress – not translated into decent work 5 of 10 people in the world - in vulnerable employment; 4 of 10 cannot lift their families out of poverty despite working * Full and productive employment and decent work added to MDG 1 in 2006 – only route out of poverty

3 Key ILO findings Decline in employment to population ratio between 1997 and 2007 Decline in employment to population ratio between 1997 and % of women employed compared with 74.3% men 49.1% of women employed compared with 74.3% men Minority in poor countries have well paid decent jobs Minority in poor countries have well paid decent jobs Service sector provides 42.7% of jobs – agriculture accounts for only 34.9% Service sector provides 42.7% of jobs – agriculture accounts for only 34.9% Sub- Saharan Africa – high rates of vulnerable employment – over 70%; for women it is 81.7% Sub- Saharan Africa – high rates of vulnerable employment – over 70%; for women it is 81.7% 64% live in rural areas; 229 million extremely poor live in rural areas 64% live in rural areas; 229 million extremely poor live in rural areas In 2007 – 85.4% of those employed still lived on less than $ 2 per day In 2007 – 85.4% of those employed still lived on less than $ 2 per day

4 Today the attention of the world’s policy makers is foused on sub-prime woes, and financial crises. But the real crisis is that of hunger and malnutrition …75% of the world’s poor people are rural and most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture is … a fundamental instrument for fighting hunger, malnutrition, and for supporting sustainable development and poverty reduction (Okonjo-Iweala, 2008).

5 Axiomatic analysis 2008 – Year of hunger [food & fuel protests] Failure to consider the gendered dimensions of poverty and malnutrition Significant roles women play in agriculture Rural women – bottom of social strata Personal and political worlds of women Transforming relationships between men and women and challenging patriarchy central to women’s financial and political liberation Charters, conventions & declarations Geneva Declaration for Rural Women

6 Gender matters!!! One chromosome makes a world of difference Confuse sex difference with gender stereotypes

7 The power of patriarchal thinking Having obtained many rights, they are dissatisfied with not having more … indeed there are definite advantages to their present status. They have not been trained for equal status and responsibility. They seem naturally adapted to their less free, less responsible, more serving role. They are in danger of losing what makes them unique and lovable if they gain equal status Having obtained many rights, they are dissatisfied with not having more … indeed there are definite advantages to their present status. They have not been trained for equal status and responsibility. They seem naturally adapted to their less free, less responsible, more serving role. They are in danger of losing what makes them unique and lovable if they gain equal status

8 Rural Black African women – triple jeopardy Geneva declaration: …in many developing countries women constitute more than 50% of the rural population and up to 50-70% of the agricultural labour force. Without their effective participation neither democracy nor development can be sustained. It is therefore necessary that rural women’s multiple contributions to the family, to democracy and to development be acknowledged and properly valued.

9 Rural – urban differences South Africa 15% rural women have school leaving certificate compared with 50% for urban women 16% rural women – no schooling relative to 3% of urban women 36% of urban women employed – 20% rural women Register women in farm households as “housewives” Casual, informal and unregulated labour – globalisation of capital

10 Rural women in sub- Saharan Africa Do 80% of food storage & transportation work; 80% of food processing work; 60% of work to bring food to the market Care of children, the sick & elderly Domestic chores Rural women who are HIV+ Fetching water and firewood Female headed households – 31% 17% Latin America & Caribbean 14% in Asia

11 Rural women: access to water Fundamental human right Fundamental human right Lack – precursor to and consequence of poverty Lack – precursor to and consequence of poverty Denial of other rights – life, health, safety, food & education Denial of other rights – life, health, safety, food & education Commodified within neoliberal framework Commodified within neoliberal framework Different roles of men and women in securing water Different roles of men and women in securing water Precludes women’s participation in educational, cultural & political activities Precludes women’s participation in educational, cultural & political activities School drop out among girls; sexual abuse School drop out among girls; sexual abuse

12 In Africa 40 billion work hours lost annually to the need to obtain drinking water

13 1.1 billion people lack access to potable water 2.2 million die each year from diseases linked to lack of water and poor hygiene More than 1.3 billion live on less than $1 per day 3 billion live on less than $2 per day

14 Women’s Human Rights Network 6 kilometers to fetch water 6 kilometers to fetch water Carries 20 kgs on her head Carries 20 kgs on her head When one flushes a toilet – one uses same amount of water used by a person in the Third World all day to cook, wash, clean and drink When one flushes a toilet – one uses same amount of water used by a person in the Third World all day to cook, wash, clean and drink People in Nairobi pay 5 times more per litre than North Americans People in Nairobi pay 5 times more per litre than North Americans 1.5 billion people suffer from preventable parasitic infections 1.5 billion people suffer from preventable parasitic infections

15 Haws (Water for People Project) The sheer backbreaking routine of finding and collecting water is only one aspect of the debilitating link between women and water in the developing world The sheer backbreaking routine of finding and collecting water is only one aspect of the debilitating link between women and water in the developing world

16 Skewed development – linked to globalisation Skewed development – linked to globalisation Globalization – widening inequalities within and across nations Globalization – widening inequalities within and across nations While a colleague of mine in Sweden mobilises his local community for access to broadband – their most pressing perceived need being easier and faster internet connection – a woman in Ethiopia ages rapidly as she carries the burden of survival on her back – heavy loads of eucalyptus branches – over several miles down a mountain in order to earn a mere US $ 1 or to light fire for the day. While a colleague of mine in Sweden mobilises his local community for access to broadband – their most pressing perceived need being easier and faster internet connection – a woman in Ethiopia ages rapidly as she carries the burden of survival on her back – heavy loads of eucalyptus branches – over several miles down a mountain in order to earn a mere US $ 1 or to light fire for the day. What is happening in Ethiopia must be a concern for the developed west What is happening in Ethiopia must be a concern for the developed west

17 Impact of globalisation and SAPS in Africa – women & children most vulnerable to its effects The market does not and will not provide access to education, health care for all or a safety net

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19 Agribusiness multinationals are having a devastating effect on small farmers

20 Africa reels under pressures of free market ideology and SAPS 40% of African children do not attend primary school 30 million Africans have HIV/AIDS 40% of Africa’s wealth is held overseas Africa’s debt crisis worsened as globalisation intensified Debt servicing – increased ill-health, malnutrition and death Developing countries paid US$ trillion in debt servicing between 1980 – 1992 (three times the original amount owed in 1980) yet the debt still stands at over US$ 2 trillion Third world has paid almost a trillion dollars of principle over and above US$ 771 in interest

21 Skewed development between the North and the South: Average GDP Developed countries - $ Latin America & Caribbean - $ North Africa - $ Sub-Saharan Africa - $ Ethiopia - $ 700 Six other African countries - $ 600 or less The poor are defined as incompetent, under the assumption that one becomes primarily what one is capable of accomplishing Social & economic exclusions fostered by process of “othering”

22 Compromised workers rights Marx: “Fetishism of commodities” “Price is the form in which that chain of human activity & human relationships appears to us … We know nothing about the lives of all those people who have produced the things we purchase … social ignorance is what permits us to be divided, turned against each other, and exploited by the owners of commodities”(Lebowitz, 2005) Naomi Klein: “No Logo” – greatest impact on women & children Media – disguises the uneven impacts of globalization So why does neoliberal capitalism endure?:

23 Taken-for-granted assumption: convergence between democracy & the market DEMOCRACY DEMOCRACY Human rights & social justice People participation Respect: human dignity & environment -Access to information Expanded freedom of choice MARKET MARKET Profit & corporate greed * Centralized power Indifference to suffering, inequality & to the environment Ideas commodified Constricted choice to illness, starvation & death

24 Marcuse This hegemonic ruling process is so successful that most people cannot even conceive of any alternative to capitalism …the ruling class alliance has managed to secure through the state such a total social authority over the subordinate classes that it shapes the whole direction of social life in its interests Power of ideological hegemony – internalization of societal oppression

25 Dynamics of internalised oppression of women Access to education and access to credit without collateral for women should be enshrined in a Bill of Rights Decent work – a basic human right?

26 Inequalities engendered by neoliberal capitalism Advocacy, lobbying, social activism Advocacy, lobbying, social activism All levels – link “communities of resistance” – solidarity of workers All levels – link “communities of resistance” – solidarity of workers The peaceful non-violent activism of Gandhi, the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King, and the revolts against the slave trade were all successful not because they made economic sense but because they had moral and ethical appeal (Sacks, 2005). The peaceful non-violent activism of Gandhi, the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King, and the revolts against the slave trade were all successful not because they made economic sense but because they had moral and ethical appeal (Sacks, 2005). Not only moral imperative – pragmatic & in the interests of everybody Not only moral imperative – pragmatic & in the interests of everybody

27 Single community based efforts are not large enough to challenge the enormous power of corporate capital or centralized government. Because community problems, almost always originate beyond local borders, the ability to effect change depends to a great extent upon building coalitions, alliances, networks and progressive political parties. The success of such efforts, however, ultimately will be based upon whether specific ways can be found to break down racial and cultural barriers that are so prevalent and threatening […] throughout the world (Fischer & and Kling in Leonard, 1997). Single community based efforts are not large enough to challenge the enormous power of corporate capital or centralized government. Because community problems, almost always originate beyond local borders, the ability to effect change depends to a great extent upon building coalitions, alliances, networks and progressive political parties. The success of such efforts, however, ultimately will be based upon whether specific ways can be found to break down racial and cultural barriers that are so prevalent and threatening […] throughout the world (Fischer & and Kling in Leonard, 1997).

28 Education!!! OURSELVES & communities Deconstruct the massive legitimating power of capitalism & patriarchy – freedom from self-imposed constraints Develop critical consciousness Intersection of race, class & gender Examination of oppression & of privilege Put radical theory in moral terms Envision alternative world orders

29 Sam Gindin: Canadian radical labourer The real issue about “alternatives” isn’t about alternative policies or about alternative governments, but about an alternative politics. Neither well meaning policies nor sympathetic governments can fundamentally alter our lives unless they are a part of a fundamental challenge to capital … making alternatives possible requires a movement that is changing political culture … bringing more people into everyday struggles and deepening the understanding and organisational skills of activists along with their commitment to radical change No alternative politics without women and without workers!!!


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