Globalization presents rural women with new obstacles, challenges: UN report

Globalization presents rural women with new obstacles, challenges: UN report

Globalization presents women in rural areas with new opportunities as well as additional negative circumstances and limitations, according to a new report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan released today.

The report on the improvement of the situation of women in rural areas presents the results of an expert group convened in Mongolia in June. Participants at the meeting concluded that the movement of women from the subsistence sector to the paid economy has served to weaken traditional gender values and promote gender equality. At the same time, the increased employment of women has brought poor working conditions, low pay and a lack of benefits, while the fact that women are working "has not diminished the unequal distribution of domestic responsibilities."

According to the report, participants at the meeting concluded that in order to reduce the vulnerability of rural women, there is a need to help them to survive while designing interventions that will secure their livelihoods.

The report details a series of recommendations designed to ensure that women benefit from the opportunities of globalization, and that its adverse effects are minimized. Among other measures, the experts call for renewed attention to human rights and labour standards. For example, they stress that women's equal right to property and inheritance "should be fully and unconditionally recognized and implemented."

Concerning women's livelihoods and work, the experts recommend that governments, donors, non-governmental organizations and the private sector develop specific assistance programmes to help rural women gain skills in banking, modern trading and financial procedures.

A number of recommendations are presented to empower women through access to training, technology and basic services. Among these proposals, experts call for school exchange programmes for rural and urban girls so as to familiarize them with the living conditions and opportunities in each sphere.

The experts also point to the need for further examination of the issue. "Governments and international organizations, including those of the United Nations system, should compile data on and analyze the impact of globalization on rural communities from a gender perspective," the report states.