Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on Apr 02, 2021
Engendered Globalisation: What Will it Take?

Globalisation and gender equality must go hand-inhand. Peterson and Runyan argue that ‘gender’ is an essential tool in analysing globalisation, as it outlines agents that frame global issues. However, gender inequalities continue to haunt the contemporary world. While the last few decades have opened multiple avenues for the increased participation of women in the workplace, the number is disproportionate to the female population and significantly smaller than the number of men in the workforce.

Globalisation is a controversial issue, not only because it is viewed differently by developed and developing countries but also in terms of gender dichotomies. While there have been attempts at breaking these dichotomies by introducing more women into formerly male-dominated fields, globalisation processes are rooted in gendered realities and ideologies, which further strengthen inequalities.

According to Adam Smith and David Ricardo , the increase in women’s economic rights will enhance international trade and globalisation. Gender rights are instrumental in promoting economic development and allowing both men and women to freely develop their potential as productive workers. Furthering these theories, McKinsey & Company estimated that if every nation achieves complete gender parity, the global GDP could increase by onethird of its current valuation at US$28 trillion. IMF reports state that countries with greater gender equality are more diversified, with higher productivity growth and better income parity.

Lemke believes that economic rights are usually granted through political processes, not economic and social evolutions. An assessment conducted by the World Economic Forum in 2018 on global gender gaps found that out of 149 countries, only 17 have women as heads of state. On average, only 18 percent ministers and 24 percent parliamentarians are women, and 34 percent women hold managerial positions globally. These numbers are much lower in the four worst performing countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, with less than seven percent women holding positions of power.

The rates of labour-force participation across the G20 countries are between 25–30 percent. In India, three out of four women are unemployed. The gender pay gap is close to 34 percent, much of which has been attributed to factors such as educational attainment, occupational segregation and work experience. However, one of the most prevalent reasons for this gap is the “motherhood penalty.”

Investing in women’s rights and equal opportunities has now become essential at every level, including property rights and access to finance and contraceptives. Women’s empowerment is aimed at not only helping women suffering from discrimination but also improving society by changing people’s outlook.

Investing in women’s rights and equal opportunities has now become essential at every level, including property rights and access to finance and contraceptives. Women’s empowerment is aimed at not only helping the women suffering from discrimination but also improving society by changing people’s outlook.

The political empowerment of women is considered the most essential part of engendered globalisation. While some women in the global North have advantageous positions, with a few being successful in politics, many still struggle to survive. Women of all decrees, regions, ethnicities and religions face inequalities in today’s world and must stand together in this fight for equality.

In the current international order, there are constant clashes of hard power amongst countries. While constituting strategic policies, gender rights and equality must be considered top-tier issues for global security, indispensable in shaping and driving the international system. Including more women in leadership positions is not merely a moral imperative. Data suggests that it will also increase peace amongst nations, reduce conflict, and create sustainable, long-term outcomes. Thus, conscious efforts must be made to change the current legal and regulatory frameworks to break down the barriers to entry for women.

Minister Smriti Irani suggested that gender bias should not be viewed solely through a cultural lens. In India, girls have been outperforming boys in academia, and women’s talent is well represented in space technologies and celebrated by ISRO on multiple occasions. Gender justice has been a part of the discourse for many years. The global world is now headed towards a digital economy. The pressing question is how prepared we are as a gender and as a community for what digital prospects have to offer.

According to market surveys, in daily-use devices and applications such as Siri and Alexa, consumers respond more positively to female voices, as they inherently represent a “voice of obedience.” This raises serious questions about the psychology of the consumer regarding gender dichotomies, and such unconscious manifestation of bias amongst the general population must be challenged.

If it is accepted that better representation and participation leads to profit and peace, why is inequality still so rampant in society? To answer this, it is important to identify the societal factors that reinforce gender biases. Involving men in addressing the issues is also crucial.

While social change is incremental, several measures can be employed to accelerate the process. Increased investment in education and human capital are key. The nation must work towards removing the barriers that women face, such as the cost factors that hit women disproportionately because of the multiple roles they take up in society. A big step forward will be to encourage bias-recognition in all spaces and neutralise such biases and discrimination.

Globalisation and modernity are closely linked to equality. To achieve engendered globalisation, it is important to encourage and accept social transformations that lead to a more egalitarian society.

This essay originally appeared in Raisina Dialogue Conference Report 2019
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