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The feminisation of poverty

by Christina Haralanova on 04.01.2005

The feminisation of poverty If you are looking for cheap labour, take the women in South-Eastern Asia. The unemployment is so considerable there, that women are ready to work for any price." This is a statement taken from a United Nations Report for 1988. The situation nowadays has not become better, it has even become worse. In the US, as in many other places, the gap between poor and rich has widened recently, and 80% of the families have had their income reduced over a 12-year time-span. Women are the working force of the world, but one of the biggest problems is their objectification - the possibility to sell and buy them, according to one of the speakers, Berit As, who states : "Globalisation and free market trade are good, but they bring a number of negative effects on women." One of the participants, who was from the UK gave the following input : the Labour government in England provides no rights to women. It is making efforts to make women go back to work, to keep them occupied, but on a very low-wage basis. It is a government policy to sustain low salaries for women workers. The unions have high numbers of women in them, and they have huge economic power, which they should use to fight for gender equality. In Uganda, for example, there are no unemployed women. They are all workers, but usually enduring the worst and heaviest work conditions. And, of course, they are paid the least. They work as slaves in a country where 60% of the women are AIDS positive... Yours truly from Bulgaria gave her input as well, arguing that gender inequality derives from the stereotypes and traditions of society. From childhood we are taught that girls need to be slim and look like models, whilst boys have to make a professional carrier for themselves. From childhood we are brainwashed by mainstream media, who perpetuate and impose discriminating stereotypes. They teach us that it is normal that women are "second-class" members of society. The speaker responded that she sees a new kind of power coming from the media. She recounted that she was spending 2,5 hours per day just watching the news on TV. At the same time, she experimented with counting how many pictures there are of men, and how many of women in the daily she was buying. The result was that the majority of pictures are of men. Meanwhile, the photos of women were completely humiliating - naked women, women gossiping with each other, women who were being emotional, modeling fashion etc. This gives the media control over us. One of the main issues which surfaced in this workshop was about the underground movement of women who are fighting for their rights. They were active in the 70s and 80s, and they have achieved really good results in Europe. Networking among the underground society now happens on the Internet. Information is available online, mobilisation is easier online and we should make use of it !



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