Globalization and Women
Globalization is an uneven process; it creates pockets of wealth and sites of violence in various parts of the globe. In the past two decades, globalization has significantly impacted women in developing nations. Forces unleashed by globalization have lifted some of the obstacles to gender equality leading to developing nations experiencing an enormous transformation in societal structure, especially concerning the position of a woman in society. India is one of the countries that traditionally have been characterized by some of the highest levels of gender inequality. In India, women have historically faced numerous cultural and structural barriers that limit them from playing a key role in the socio-economic development of society. However, in recent decades, this has been changing owing to the forces of globalization. Through a gender equality lens, this paper seeks to analyze the impact of globalization on women in India. While globalization has significantly improved the lives of women in India by lifting barriers to gender equality it has also had a negative impact as demonstrated in this paper.
Positive Impacts of Globalization on Women in India
Globalization has increased the exports of India and wages in the exports sector are comparably higher. In many cases, women benefit from higher wages than men in the formal industrial sectors. Hence, globalization has improved the average wages of women in this country. Additionally, globalization has led to an increase in women’s employment opportunities, as a result, altering how they contribute to family expenses. This supports the creation of new resources as well as raises the level of household income (Awasthi & Balani, 2017). Thus, by creating employment opportunities for women and raising their wages, globalization has contributed to the bridging of the gender equality gap in India.
Traditionally, in India women have mostly relied on agriculture for their livelihoods. If farming is carried out in traditional methods it has serious gender implications since the demand for women’s labor is significantly high but the wages are considerably low. Globalization has led to an increase in demand for export food leading to farmers shifting from small farming to large-scale farming. The increase in demand for these crops in the international markets has led to an increase in demand for female laborers. The women have benefited from improved working conditions and higher wages. Processing companies specializing in food processing have also sprouted as a result of the increased demand. Women are the main beneficiaries of these advancements as they have historically been oppressed in the agriculture sector (Awasthi & Balani, 2017). Therefore, globalization has benefited women by facilitating improvements in the Indian agriculture sector.
The increasingly growing service sector in India due to globalization has also positively impacted women. In today’s world, the service sector is the backbone of the global economy. Some service sectors such as communication and information technology have rapidly grown in the past two decades owing to globalization. This has led to increased demand for labor consequently providing women with an opportunity to work in the formal sector. Some of the fastest-growing sectors in India due to globalization include information and communication technology, traveling, insurance, and banking. The growth has resulted in numerous employment opportunities for women (Kaur, 2018). Thus, the growth in India’s service sector due to globalization has significantly benefitted women.
Globalization has also led to an increase in foreign direct investment through the establishment of multinational companies in India. These multinational companies offer jobs without gender discrimination since they work in a highly competitive environment. The companies employ individuals based on their competence and abilities, as such, motivate more women to get jobs. Before 1991, India was a restricted economy. However, the launching of the liberalization, globalization, and privatization policy afterward created numerous opportunities in terms of employment opportunities for women (Dhar, 2021). Hence, globalization has positively impacted women and gender equality by facilitating an increase in foreign direct investment.
Moreover, globalization has positively impacted Indian women by facilitating access to information. Women in India have increasingly learned about their rights owing to globalization, which has fueled their fight for equality. With the increased awareness coupled with the independency resulting from better jobs and higher wages, Indian women are now in a relatively better position to fight for their rights to create a society that upholds gender equality (Dhar, 2021). Thus, globalization has significantly improved the position of a woman in society by allowing them to play a key role in the socio-economic development of society.
In a nutshell, globalization is shifting gender roles and norms in India by increasing access to information, primarily through the internet and television. This allows India as a country to learn about social mores in other countries, consequently changing longstanding perceptions and promoting the adoption of relatively more egalitarian attitudes. Additionally, the economic empowerment for women resulting from globalization reinforces the process of gender equalization by promoting alteration in gender roles, shifting relative power within the household, and allowing women to influence time allocation.
Read also Dimensions of Globalization
Negative Impact of Globalization on Women in India
Globalization has created employment opportunities for women but now most of them have to work two jobs since they still have their household responsibilities. The household responsibilities have not decreased despite them having to work similar hours to the men. The double responsibilities have a negative impact on their performance at their places of work. Some women enjoy the freedom of delaying marriage to advance their careers but this can prove problematic in the later years when they face the challenge of finding a husband. Moreover, women are still paid lower wages compared to men, especially in local companies (Dhar, 2021). Thus, whereas globalization has created employment opportunities for women it has also paved the way for their exploitation.
Gender disparities in education have also disadvantaged Indian women in the labor market. Many Indian families prioritize educating boys to girls. As a result, the labor market has more men than women. Thus, whereas organizations in India are increasingly embracing a non-discrimination policy in employment, they are forced to employ more men since they comprise the majority of the labor market. The women are, therefore, forced to seek jobs in the informal sector, which usually exploits their labor for low wages. The informal sector in India for the most part does not comply with the minimum wage policy among other labor policies aimed to protect workers (Awasthi & Balani, 2017). Therefore, globalization has in some way provided an easier route for employers to exploit women working in the informal sector.
Indian weak property rights for women as well as limited access to productive inputs constrain their capacity to benefit from the trade openness created by globalization. Gender roles have disproportionately affected women’s access to benefits associated with globalization. For instance, many men will not allow their women to work night shifts, as they believe during this time a woman should be home taking care of the children and other household chores. As a result, a woman may be qualified to work in a certain position but will not take the job because it requires a night shift worker. Also, women have fewer opportunities for securing loans because they do not have the collateral since men have rights to household properties (Das, 2022). Such obstacles only lead to globalization being a means for Indian society to advance the existing gender inequality.
Although Indian women may feel a sense of empowerment due to the benefits associated with globalization, their wages remain notably low compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, women have the smallest shops and are the least able to compete in the informal sector. Globalization gives women a taste of independence but does not allow them to ascend to the same positions career-wise as men. Women tend to be stigmatized as laborers rather than promote them to managerial positions. Men are confident in supervisory and managerial positions because of gender roles and expectations in India. The double standards in India cause women to develop a double role in survival (Das, 2022). Thus, globalization has allowed women to work in workplaces where they face prejudice due to the double standards characterizing Indian society.
Lastly, globalization has resulted in an increase in the number of single-parent families in India. According to Awasthi and Balani (2017)., as more women continue to have access to jobs paying decent wages, men are abandoning their responsibilities at an increasing rate. This is resulting in women opting to raise children on their own. Thus, globalization has played a role in the increasing rate of single-parent families in India.
Challenges Facing Women
Two challenges mainly bar women from optimally leveraging the benefits associated with globalization. The first one is the social mores characterizing the Indian society. In India, the perception regarding the role of a woman in society is still informed by traditional perceptions regarding gender roles. There are distinctions between women’s and men’s roles. Most Indians still believe that the man should be the sole breadwinner of the family and the woman should remain at home to take care of the children and household chores (Awasthi & Balani, 2017). As a result, women have fewer chances for opportunities that can allow them to play key roles in the socio-economic development of society ((Das, 2022). These cultural barriers significantly hinder women from leveraging the benefits of globalization.
Besides the cultural barriers, structural barriers also hinder women from fully benefiting from globalization. Compared to men, women in India have less access to education. India has historically prioritized educating boys over girls. As a result, the Indian labor market is dominated by males. Therefore, the opportunities for employment offered by globalization mainly benefit males since they possess the skills and knowledge required by the formal sector. Also, women are often overlooked when it comes to positions of power such as organizational management or political leadership. Consequently, the policies implemented at both organizational and country levels tend to favor men since they are implemented for the most part by men (Das, 2022). Thus, structural barriers are a key challenge facing women in India.
Strength and Ability to Overcome the Challenges
Indian women have the strength and ability to overcome the above-described challenges. One way they can overcome the challenges is through accessing information regarding their rights and how developed nations have attained the success they have in terms of gender equality. In this information era, there exist numerous information, especially on the internet, whereby Indian women can learn about social mores in other places. The information will allow them to challenge Indian political leaders to implement policies that will bridge the gender equality gap (Lindio-McGovern & Wallimann, 2016). According to Lindio-McGovern and Wallimann, whereas globalization has an immense potential to contribute to improved gender equality, it cannot achieve much without suitable public policies.
Public policy can help address the gender gaps existing in countries such as India, allowing women to leverage the economic and social opportunities associated with globalization. Only when developing countries implement appropriate public policies will women be able to capitalize on the potential of globalization as a force for improved gender equality (“Empowering women in developing countries”, 2015). Suitable public policy can help change public perception regarding gender roles and allow women to influence time allocation, exercise agency more broadly, and shift power within the household. Public policy can also lead to placing more women in positions of power (Stark, 2017). For instance, having a gender rule regarding the percentage of women that should be selected in appointed government positions.
To sum up, globalization has largely impacted women in developing nations such as India. Globalization has significantly contributed to the bridging of the gender equality gap in this country by creating employment opportunities for women, through foreign direct investment, and access to information, which has changed public perception regarding gender roles. On the downside, globalization has negatively impacted women by creating opportunities for women to be exploited in the informal sector via low wages. Moreover, women have to work two jobs due to globalization since they still have to carry out their household duties despite working the same hours as men in their place of employment. Nonetheless, the impact of globalization on women when examined under the lens of gender equality has been significantly positive. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in India to ensure women optimally capitalize on the benefits of globalization.