Global Workforces

WOMEN WORKERS AND GLOBALIZATION: Emergent Contradictions in India has recently been published by Stree, Kolkata.

In this book, Indrani Mazumdar investigates the impact of globalization on women workers in India in jobs that are considered to be most prominent in discourses around women’s work. This book demystifies the phenomenon of globalization, offering an overview of its prime drivers, processes and forces. Four sectoral studies of women workers are provided: two on factory women in garment exports and electronics; the third on home-based workers in a range of manufacturing processes and industries; and the fourth on middle class women working in Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES).

Primary surveys were conducted amongst 500 women workers in 2002-04, covering the capital and its satellite townships of Noida and Gurgaon through a combination of structured questionnaires, individual and group discussions. These locale-specific primary surveys constitute the basis of identification of the main issues and concerns of women workers in these sectors. In addition, by using secondary sources, the study links the experiences of these Delhi-based women workers with their counterparts in the same sectors in other parts of the country for a more general understanding of the impact of globalization.

The analysis of garment exports, electronics and IT services, which are clearly linked to global production and service networks, brings out global sectoral trends and their ramifications. The study of home-based workers, on the other hand, has focused more on the policy framework towards this particular section and the changes in perspective that have accompanied the liberalization process.

The advent of middle class women workers in the new forms of employment in the service sector has led to much euphoric celebration of globalization among some sections of the business and middle classes. IT-enabled service, the product of the digital age, are seen by ‘globalizers’ as being singularly important for employment generation as well as in terms of the potential to transform India from a still largely backward and overwhelmingly poor country into the ‘superpower’ league. The authors suggests that in this new IT enabled sector, new avenues of employment can be seen combining with new forms of cultural degradation, with technology itself becoming an instrument of closer and more oppressive systems of social control.

A crucial indicator of the effects of liberalization has been the steep fall in the work participation rates among women in both rural and in urban India. The globalization decade in India has been marked by an extreme volatility in employment that is generalized across all sectors. The general results have been an extreme and continuous pressure on the wages and incomes of the majority of women workers in the manufacturing sector, in many cases to levels far below subsistence. Moreover, the gap between male and female employment has been widening. An incisive guide to the impact of globalization on women’s work, the book will be invaluable for scholars, activists, the general public, whose very livelihood is at stake, and indeed for policy makers.

In our Gender and Development Studies sections. Hardback, 374 pages, Rs 550. ISBN: 9788185604848