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Globalisation and WTO: ‘Women take on the Giant’ : 

Globalisation and WTO: ‘Women take on the Giant’ Judy M. Taguiwalo University of the Philippines Presentation to the 20th Anniversary of Women, Law and Development Networks Does Law Matter?: 20 Years of Accessing Justice for Women Bangkok, Thailand November 30, 2007


In India, in 10 villages in Tamil Nadu, the shift to flower production for exports has decreased the production of food crops and led to higher food prices, lower employment, lower income and lower food consumption among marginal farmers and landless women workers In Thailand, small-scale farmers of soybean and cassava (two important cash and export crops) have come under heavy economic pressure (from cheap imports of soybean, export barriers and the development of alternative sources of cassava in western markets). In the Philippines, indigenous women farmers in the Cordillera who grow potatoes have faced the effects of the liberalization of the potato industry signaled by the lifting of the import ban on potato seeds in 1987 and the tarrification of potatoes as laid down in the Agreement on Agriculture under the WTO.


In Indonesia, cheap imports of rice and depressed domestic prices threatened the food security and livelihood of a large number of rice-growing small farmers. Women have been excluded from access to govt’s credit by “village units” which decided on the loans, as women were not considered farmers because they are not involved in the plowing of the land. In Sri Lanka, Food imports increased since 1996, a year after the WTO was established. The increase in imports was followed by a decrease in food production resulting in the drop in rural employment. About 300,000 jobs were lost due to the drop in the production of onions and potatoes.

Flow of Presentation: 

Flow of Presentation Meaning of Globalization WTO and Impact on Women Women’s Responses

The meaning of globalization: 

The meaning of globalization faster interconnection due to advances in transportation and communication. a “borderless” world as goods, services, cultural products and ideas travel across borders with relative ease.

Globalization is first and foremost an economic process. : 

Globalization is first and foremost an economic process. reduction of the role of governments in regulating trade and production and in providing services. the market : most efficient and effective determinant of what should be produced and what would be consumed.


Competition would lead to rational production as countries produce goods and provide services that they can do so competitively and simply import those they cannot; producing growth which eventually would redound to the benefit of society as a whole.


Globalization is reflected in three major policies which many governments have adopted: : liberalization : privatization and : deregulation.


Liberalization ---the reduction and eventual removal of barriers to the flow of goods, services and capital from one country to another. Example is the reduction or removal of tariffs or taxes on imported agricultural products such as beef, rice or corn


Deregulation---the removal of government intervention in setting or regulating the prices of goods and services regardless of whether this benefits the consumers or not. Example is the deregulation of the oil industry.


Privatization is the total or partial sale of government-owned or controlled corporations or institutions to the private sector. Example is the sale of formerly government owned and managed water and electric companies to private businesses

Globalization is political hegemony: 

Globalization is political hegemony The twin of the economic processes and policies of globalization is political hegemony: the expansion of the political power of international capital and advanced capitalist countries and the increasing use of force to address dissent.

Globalization is also about cultural hegemony: 

Globalization is also about cultural hegemony Emphasis on individualism and consumerism Capitalist culture and values as the model World class, meaning standards set by the advanced capitalist countries

Globalization did not occur overnight: 

Globalization did not occur overnight Colonialism determined the structure of the economy, politics and culture of countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa


Even with independence, the structure of the economy of the former colonies did not basically change. The developing countries remained exporters of raw materials and importers of finished products. In addition, foreign investments actually siphoned off badly-needed capital in the form of profit remittances and transfer pricing.


the developing countries remained poor as the earnings from exports were generally not sufficient to pay for their imports. To be able to pay for their imports, developing or poor countries resorted to international borrowings from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and from international commercial banks owned by Western powers.


Structural adjustment programs or SAPs became the prescription from the World Bank and other lending institutions for indebted developing countries.

SAP prescriptions include:: 

SAP prescriptions include: Wage control Reduction of government spending hence removal of government support for agriculture (for example buying of farmers’ products), reduction of government budget for education, health and other social services Increase in government income through imposition of higher and new taxes such as the VAT Emphasis in dollar earning economic activities such as expansion of export crop production, tourism and encouragement of foreign investors through incentives given to them in industrial enclaves or export processing zones


The formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the acceleration of import liberalization starting in 1995 further opened the economies of the developing countries to the influx of foreign companies, foreign goods and foreign service providers.

The record of globalization : 

The record of globalization While ostensibly globalization promotes development of poor countries, in reality, globalization as the integration of national economies into the world market, represents the interest of advanced industrialized countries and facilitates the further exploitation of poor countries and the further concentration of wealth in advanced capitalist countries.

glaring global inequalities under globalization:: 

glaring global inequalities under globalization:


The richest 20 per cent of the world grab more than 85 % of the income. The three wealthiest persons in the world have combined assets greater than the combines gross national product of the 48 poorest countries which have a total population of 600 million.


Majority of the worlds’ peoples subsists on less than US$2 daily and a quarter or 1.2 billion people on less than US$1 daily.


$6 billion --needed annually for the education of out of school youth all over the world $8 billion --annual expenses of US for cosmetics $9 billion --needed annually to provide water and sanitation to peoples of the world without running water $11 billion --annual expenses of Europe for ice cream $11 billion --needed annually for health and nutrition needs of peoples of the world who need assistance $17 billion -- annual expenses for food of pets in Europe and the United States COMPARATIVE EXPENSES OF RICH AND POOR COUNTRIES Source: UNDP

WTO: The Third Giant: 

WTO: The Third Giant The World Trade Organization or WTO is the third, after the IMF and World Bank, of the big three international institutions which determine the economic, financial and trade policies of our countries.

From its official website: 

From its official website “The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.”

Brief History of WTO: 

Brief History of WTO Established on January 1, 1995 although it traces its roots to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT formed in 1948 which provided the framework for the conduct of international trade. Main objective of GATT, and now the WTO: open up (liberalise) trade among its member countries by reducing tariffs (taxes) and quotas (volume or number) on traded products. Expanded coverage to include not only to trade in agricultural products, textiles and clothing but also to trade in services (such as health, education or banking), trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights and trade-related investment measures.

WTO as a Giant: 

WTO as a Giant Location: Geneva, Switzerland Established: 1 January 1995 Created by: Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94)   Membership: 151 countries on 27 July 2007 Budget: 182 million Swiss francs for 2007 Secretariat staff: 625 Head: Pascal Lamy (Director-General) Functions: • Administering WTO trade agreements • Forum for trade negotiations • Handling trade disputes • Monitoring national trade policies • Technical assistance and training for developing countries • Cooperation with other international organizations 

The Uruguay Round agreements : 

The Uruguay Round agreements The “Final Act” signed in Marrakesh in 1994 is like a cover note. Everything else is attached to this. Foremost is the Agreement on Establishing the WTO (or the WTO Agreement), which serves as an umbrella agreement. Annexed are the agreements on goods, services and intellectual property,dispute settlement,trade policy review mechanism and the plurilateral agreements.

Trade agreements as instruments of death : 

Trade agreements as instruments of death GATT 1994      Other duties and charges (GATT Art.II:l(b)),     State trading enterprises (GATT Art.XVII),   Balance-of-payments, Understanding      Regional trade agreements (GATT Art.XXIV Waivers of Obligations, Understanding      Concession withdrawal (GATT Art.XXVIII), Understanding      Marrakesh Protocol to the GATT 1994      Agriculture      Sanitary and Phytosanitary Textiles and Clothing      Technical Barriers to Trade      Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs Annex 1B    General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)      Annex 1C    Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)     

Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) Importance to rural and indigenous women: 

Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) Importance to rural and indigenous women The AoA basically: opens up a country to agricultural products from other countries through the reduction or removal of taxes for imported agricultural products, reduction or removal of restrictions on the number/or volume of imported agricultural products, reduction or removal of government support to local farmers and their products


the AoA was supposed to enlarge the foreign market of local agricultural producers, it has actually opened the door to cheap imports of products from developed countries such as the United States into developing countries where millions of small-scale and family farmers could not compete with giant multi-national agribusinesses. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), after studying the effect of the liberalization of agriculture in 16 countries all over the world found that the AoA has brought about the influx of imported food into developing countries but has not led into an increase of their exports

As mothers and home managers: 

As mothers and home managers longer hours of work additional jobs to generate more income greater hunger and malnutrition worsening health conditions worsening physical, emotional and psychological stress increase in female-headed households

As farmers and producers : 

As farmers and producers loss of land and loss of control in agricultural processes involvement in informal economy factory and subcontracting work at low wages and no job security prostitution sex trafficking

Press Statement of Amihan: 

Press Statement of Amihan October 12, 2005 Two women farmers, in a press conference today, admitted to have sidelined to prostitution due to the worsening economic situation of the country. Sarah (not her real name) who hails from a farming village in Pampanga revealed:” I had to offer myself for sex at least two times in the past, in exchange for a few kilos of rice, and grocery items. This I did at a time when I can no longer find work and my children are hungry and sick.” Gina, 30 years old who is from the province of Rizal admitted to have regularly engaged in prostitution. She explained:” I can not bear to see my five young children crying because of hunger.”

As community workers and organizers: 

As community workers and organizers added work as such additional work as health workers repression


Presidium of Judges headed by Irene Fernandez Six witnesses Submissions by presenters

Verdict: WTO Guilty of the following crimes: 

Verdict: WTO Guilty of the following crimes Cause of abject poverty of billions of rural women and their families driven out of land and farm production; Pushed and forced thousands of peasant women and daughters to the flesh trade for lack of alternative livelihoods Caused women to suffer from hunger and malnutrition, very hazardous forms of work and exposure to hazardous technologies like pesticides and chemical fertlizers

Verdict: WTO guilty of : 

Verdict: WTO guilty of Exacerbating the existing discrimination suffered by women producers in the spheres of employment, wages and the conditions of work Favoring big companies and big economies like the US and EU and giving them tremendous freedom to expand thereby destroying small economies and violating the rights of the people, especially rural and indigenous women of developing countries

Verdict: governments of witnesses guilty of the ff:: 

Verdict: governments of witnesses guilty of the ff: Neglect of fundamental needs and welfare of women by adoption of WTO policies; Refusal to resist these policies even in the face of clear evidences that these are harmful to women Failure to recognize and break up patriarchal values entrenched in laws and policies that continue to oppress women Failure to respect women’s health and reproductive rights making women more vulnerable


As more women are forced into prostitution and migration, governments have to be accountable for Article 6 of CEDAW that state parties should take appropriate measures to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and exploitation of women in forced prostitution Non-implementation of genuine agrarian reform Putting food security and the environment in jeopardy Increased repression of women’s and people’s movements

Concluding Statement of Verdict: 

Concluding Statement of Verdict WTO must stop operating as a world trade body US, EU and other big economies should end repression and arm twisting of smaller economies Compensation and indemnification of all victims especially rural women Urge victims to file complaints with UN and its pertinent committees and Rapporteurs Governments working in collusion with WTO should be removed from office and permanently banned from public office Urge all movements to strengthen international solidarity so that rural women can claim their rights and dignity.


Alternatives Genuine land reform Strong domestic manufacturing and processing industry Domestic industrial and agricultural technology Trade policy based on principle of mutual benefit and respect for the right of countries to determine their trade policies Resist the impositions of the IMF, WB, WTO and other globalization institutions; take the country out of WTO


Indonesia Philippines Mongolia Pakistan India Indonesia Thailand


References: Judy M. Taguiwalo. “Globalization and Women, A Discussion Guide for Trainers”. APWLD Rural and Indigenous Women Task Force, 2006 Women’s Tribunal Verdict. Women’s Tribunal Against the WTO, Hongkong, December 16, 2005, Official website, WTO. http://www.dontglobalisehunger.org/photo_gallery2.php

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