The Impact of Globalisation on Mediterranean Countries
A Women's Perspective
July 12-14, 2002 - Marrakech, Morocco
Ada Donno (Italy), Ninetta Pourou-Kazantzis, Maroulla Vassiliou (Cyprus), Anissa Smati (Algeria), Yana Mintoff Bland (Malta), Zineb Mabsout (Morocco), Elham Bayour (Palestine)
The Conference was conducted in three languages: English, French and Arabic. Mr. Ahmed Hamzaoui kindly undertook to summarize and translate what was said.
July 13th - morning
09.50 - 11.45 The impact of Globalization on Women and Children
Chair: Khadija Al Feddy
On behalf of the Human, Environment and Development Networks (HERD) she welcomes the participants, explains the changes in the agenda and introduces the subjects and speakers.
Professor Hamdani Ben Ali
, consultant of world-wide acceptance
He thanked the organizers and said he would share his experience with them starting by stating that the situation of women and children today is worse than that of men and that the impact of globalization on women and children is enormous.
He gave a historic analysis of globalization and asked the participants to think on that axis.
Globalization was born along with man and is evident in commerce since ever. It has been the exchange between the peoples all around the world. The growth of Navigation in the 14th century and the discovery of Africa and the Americas maximized the effects of globalization and enhanced the movement of populations.
During the 17th and 18th centuries there was nothing to stop the expansion of commerce, trade and external affairs. The new discoveries of that era - cars, trains, communications etc. - played a major role toward this expansion and people benefit from mobility and commerce.
During the 19th and the 20th centuries, there was the industrial development. We call that period "the colonization era" because of the need for raw materials to sustain commerce and production in the "rich" countries. There were many conflicts, a big economic crisis that affected women and children. After 1950 and especially today, steps are taken and institutions are established - like the UN, the WB, the WTO, the IMF, the GATT, the reconstruction of Europe, the EU etc - that are all in favour of globalization.
The economic crisis of the 80's and the defeat of communism in the 90's have transformed the world. In the end of the 90's there was the "economic crisis of the dragon" - the Asian economic crisis. Finally there is the rise of terrorism - up till today. Therefore globalization exists since the beginning of life.
Today, we see the interdependence between countries like France, Italy and Spain. Cooperation and diffusion of technology are main aspects of globalization. Communications facilitate the cooperation, and are essential to globalization. It is also essential to spread the technology and knowledge to the third world.
Which are the factors of today's globalization?
Firstly, the investment and private monopolies; secondly, the Multilateral Agreement on the Investments and the GATT; and finally, the Mechanisms of International Jurisdiction, constitute the international face of globalization.
What is the impact and consequences of this globalization? He referred to consequences specifically to Morocco, including the water, the inequality, the unemployment etc.
People today are protesting against globalization in many countries. The establishment of equal diffusion of money, technology and knowledge will result in Justice, Equality and Peace.
, University Professor, Faculty of Law
She spoke on the specific impact of Globalization on Women and Children.
The respect of Human Rights should also secure Women's Rights since in the first article it is clearly stipulated: "no discrimination should there exist between genders". The social systems, the family and the states have to respect exactly that.
The education of women is a primary factor to secure and implement women's rights, which are human and universal rights. The inter-sexual relations are not easy here in Morocco and women's issues are a very complex matter especially due to the system, the religion, the ambivalence of the legal system and the doctrinal opposition for equality between the genders.
The Islamic concept on the family and the status of women dictates that marriage and divorce are controlled by the faith. Women cannot own property. There are also particularities due to the ethics existing in Morocco before the emergence of Islam. The colonization of Morocco, the commerce and national relations during colonization also affected the juridical system. The Moroccan Constitution is very close to the French one and there is a need for reforms. There must be the abolition of discrimination against women.
The respect of Islam is very important in Morocco. So, the acceptance of ways and norms on women coming from abroad create an antinomy. The Human Rights are mentioned and respected in the Islam. Can modern ideas be in conformity or do they always constitute an antinomy with Islam? Cultural specificities have to be accounted for and so should cultural differences.
The specificities in the Islam define Women's Rights, social status, political status, culture, etc. The question is: within globalization, universal culture, etc, can people keep their diversity? Can they remain intact and can women be emancipated without clashing with the sacred texts of Islam? The globalization of Women's Rights can be a positive process and not only a negative one. In her opinion Islam is compatible to women's rights.
Myassr Al Hassan, Palestine: She gave an account of her peoples' problems due to globalization. Women and children suffer the most. The USA policy sustains torture, terrorism, poverty etc. The Palestinians ask for an independent Palestinian Sate with Jerusalem as its capital.
Anissa Smati, Algeria: She is a lawyer and a professor on Women's Rights. She told the first speaker that terrorism did not start on 11th September, but it existed for many-many years before. In Algeria they have been experiencing terrorism for the last ten years and it is the USA that perpetuates terrorism since ever. As for the second speaker, she has not mentioned any difference between the North and the South Mediterranean in terms of Globalization and Women's Rights. She also asked what is the positive effect of globalization and said that the speaker did not touch upon the Berber culture and the rights of the Algerians.
Mr Hamdani Ben Ali in response: Terrorism was born hand in hand with humanity. The world is governed by USA. Without colonization, internationalization etc. democracy as we know it today would have been different. But terrorism exists forever.
Mme Hajjami in response: Islam has never imposed on the cultures where it exists. It has always respected differences and specificities, as long as in principle they were not contrary to Islamic Law. As for the Berbers, the woman contributes to the acquisition of riches along with the man, so she is entitled to them too. The Law is different in the various parts of Morocco, but Islam is not a Law Code and there is a need for a uniform Juridical Code in Morocco so that all enjoy the same rights and equality between the genders is secured and respected everywhere.
11.45 - 12.10 Break
12.10 - 13.30 Globalization and the emergence of Fundamentalist Movements
Chair: Idlimam Ali
Lawyer, writer and a woman working for the elimination of violence against women.
The very essential observation is that we have lived in a duality of advantages and disadvantages. The west has brought democracy and human rights but also oppression, war etc. Europe is the epitome of all negative things. We need to understand ourselves before we understand the others. The intellectual maturity comes with the emergence of Prost etc. The Islamic heritage was not in clash with Europe, but because of globalization things have changed.
We react to the incapacity of continuous progress and our fear of change results in the rise of fundamentalism. The abolishment of social services, the deterioration of the middle class, the rise of poverty are some of the negative effects of globalization. More than 10% of Moroccan women live in poverty. The rate of divorce gets higher and today it reaches about 51%. There is a need for a change in the social conditions.
There must also be a change in the status of women. A wide movement that encompasses everybody should be created. Some years ago women's groups were accused of atheism because they asked for their rights. The oppression of women does not perpetuate the family but makes things worse. The politicians just protect the old ethics, but the King has set up a committee to change these situations. The criminal law is also not good in Morocco. There is no recognized theft between husband and wife and this perpetuates injustice against women and inequality in the family.
, Writer, HERD member
She gave a report on the real situation of women in Morocco today.
How can women participate in a world that is entirely hostile to the implementation of Women's Rights?
The Arab-Muslim society is peculiar. Women, which constitute more than 51% of the total population, do not enjoy their rights equally in all parts of the world.
Her speech in English is attached
A discussion between the Arabic-speaking participants followed but without translation, so we were not able to understand and record what was said.
13.30 - 14.30 Lunch
July 13th - afternoon
14.50 - 15.30 Re-inventing Globalization
Chair: Yana Mintoff-Bland
She thanked the Moroccan organizers and introduced the subject and the speakers.
, Iranian residing in the USA, University Professor and a researcher of International Women's Organizations.
We think that Globalization has very negative effects on the economies and the peoples, especially in weak countries. The Politicians, the economists, the IMF and others, argue that Globalization is positive. She thinks that Globalization is the last face of capitalism.
Exclusion is one facet of Globalization. It has increased poverty, inequality (within and across countries) and unemployment. At the same time, Globalization from below is a different matter: The protests (Seattle etc) and the Multilateral Agreements on Investment have created mobility and a movement for global economic justice. So we must view Globalization not only from above but as also from below and understand that it can be a movement against poverty, patriarchy, and environmental degradation and for democratic participation etc.
We must acknowledge the contribution of the socialist feminist movement towards economic and social justice, implementation of the TOBIN Tax, a return to the welfare and developmentalist state and women's participation in global decision-making. The global social movement was able to defeat many of the processes of negative economic globalization. In Seattle, in Genoa, in Barcelona, in Gothenburg and in so many other cities we have seen collective action against globalization. The Structural Adjustment Policies of the IMF were strongly opposed by the people and today the Trans-national anti-globalization organizations are also engaged with states and policies and they interact with the IMF and the World Bank and their policies.
All Agreements to be signed should be bound by the Human Rights, the Women's Rights and the Labour Rights Charters. They must not in any way violate these rights. Fundamentalism rose in reaction to women's growing participation in the public sphere. It is of course a reaction to globalization and economic oppression, but it has a direct effect on women's rights. There exist many organizations like Women Living Under Muslim Law etc. that fight against globalization and link women in the global north and the global south. The World March of Women in the Year 2000 was a major movement, in which the AWMR also took part, against globalization, poverty, patriarchy, and violence against women and for economic and gender justice.
Italian Researcher and Scientist in Lecce.
Gender Science and globalization: which science and which technology are we talking about?
A Scientist, in accordance with the classic view, is objective and not subjective; the mind dominating the emotions; a man, not a woman; separate from the humanities. Yet, very few women are today involved in science, especially in the most industrialized countries.
By excluding women, science lost cognitive, emotional and human resources.
Science affirms its neutrality, but today social, economic, environmental, ethical questions require science to approach life and situations in a more global way, crossing disciplinary boundaries.
If we see the population growth in different parts of the world and compare with the electricity consumption rise, we see that there is a contradictory situation. More than 50% per cent of consumes are in OECD countries where less of 20% of world population lives.
To re-invent globalization is to bring justice and equality back to our lives in all parts of the world and especially to the economically weak.
Maroulla Vassiliou, Cyprus: The AWMR has been very active during the World March of Women in the Year 2000 and we were on the organizing committee even though it comprised only 60 women. From Cyprus 80 women went to N.Y. and they came from all political parties.
Anna ..., Amsterdam: This discussion is very important. Globalization started so many years ago, the roots being in the Middle East (Egypt, Sumeria etc) and it is present in all our histories. Western domination is very young, only 500 years old, whilst history in this part of the world reveals our roots of thousands of years. Looking into our history we understand that we have common roots and we can understand each other's languages. We must re-invent globalization but we must find our goals first.
Valentine Moghadam, in response: Unfortunately the Arab and Middle East NGO's are not involved enough in the anti-globalization process and protest. They are not visible and this must change in order for the region to avoid negative impact of globalization in this area. Why the Arab countries do that? Why are they not involved? The women must work this out.
???: Why do we say that women can change the situation when there are many women in charge of big multinational companies today?
Valentine Moghadam in response: The leadership style of women is more inclusive, more democratic, more humane etc. It is very important to have more women because they do make a difference. The 50/50 campaign should succeed because, after all, women are more than 50% of the population. The priorities will change if women are in the leadership - spending will be less on militarization and more on culture, education etc.
, Italy. Speculative finance capital has occupied the leadership of Italy and this is creating a new model for capitalist globalization that is extremely cruel. The power of profit is paramount. Wealth and profit are considered the paramount positive values in our lives. The poor are considered useless. Poor countries are considered inefficient and are marginalized.
When Prime Minister Berlusconi was asked about his concerns for the unemployed and the poor, he answered, "For them, I can sometimes open my cheque-book". The domination of Italy by a few finance capitalists who share this philosophy is extremely serious and it represents a risk similar to the one with Mussolini and Hitler.
, Palestine. Focused on the role of the Western NGOs among Palestinian women, she gave ten counts on which they have had a negative effect. She also made the point that when talking about globalization, one must not forget Zionism and the globalization of this extreme religious fundamentalist view. The Western NGOs have alienated and undermined Palestinian women.
, Morocco. Globalization is a very hotly debated issue. Is it new? Is it American? It is not a democratic process that stems from the will of the people; It is dictatorial; Big Business rules. How does this effect women? Africa is mostly neglected and marginalized, only comprising 2% of the total value of world trade.
Women in African countries face:
The challenge of education versus illiteracy
Bad health conditions
Violence against women
Lack of participation in decision-making
Today, more education is available and more jobs are open to women, but 75% of Arab women are expected to still be illiterate in the year 2010. We cannot wait for foreign firms to improve this situation.
Women are not the first choice for vacant jobs, and even when women are hired they are paid low wages.
Ecological catastrophes are also faced by women.
War and challenges to elementary security are also widespread in Africa.
Women play a key role in the rural economy and in agriculture in the Maghreb and Africa. Globalization threatens the agricultural sector. The image of the African woman in the media is distorted - she is portrayed as a consumer and not a producer.
Four recommendations for the Arab Countries to agree upon are paramount:
Improve the political, cultural and economic situation of women
Take only what is positive of globalization
Abolish all forms of discrimination
Improve education and training
Globalization is a process toward the creation of one single economic area. Freedom of the movement of capital in search of more exploitation and higher profits is the engine. The financial subordination of people in developing countries is evident and there is a transfer of resources from protected activities to open and foreign dominated ones.
Inequalities have grown in Cyprus. Unemployment has grown, especially among women. The economy has been weakened. Entering the EU has meant more weakening of the local economy, more privatization. We are in favor of the internationalization of economies on the basis of solidarity and co-operation, economic and social justice. We want a democratic world where the economy serves the people and not the other way round.
Ibrahim Abrache, Doctor, teacher of International Law
Ouassef Mansour, Association for Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Myassr Al-Hassan, Palestinian, AWMR member
They tackled the problem from a legal viewpoint, because there were foreigners attending. Myassr Al-Hassan gave a speech of reason and an account of the present situation in Palestine. The plenary adopted what was said and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people.
July 14th - morning
09.00 - 11.00
THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY
Coordinator: Yana Mintoff-Bland
First they discussed what Civil Society means.
There are three definitions:
The Marxist view that Civil Society is dependent on the state, made up of classes and an invention to confuse people
The World Bank view that Civil Society must fill the gaps where the state cannot do the work, i.e. NGO's to take up the welfare, the education, the health, etc.
The radical view, that the Civil Society are the people working for the good of others, organizing for human rights and democracy and working to transform the state to a better one.
How can we strengthen civil society?
The NGO's must grow.
We need a comprehensive system of rights.
The state has welfare and development duties.
In Morocco the inconsistency of Law and Human Rights must end. Women must play a better role in education, development and decision-making. Local resources must be under local control. Education for rural women must be secured, the right to free and quality education implemented. There should be more scientific education for women. They must have the Right to equal opportunity at work.
Environment and nutrition, access to fresh water, the right to information, the right to a free and not a bias press must also be safeguarded. Women and progressive groups do organize more in civil society to advance democracy. We demand democracy in the UN and the World Bank, a relief of the debt of the third world countries. Women's Rights must be accepted and applied in all countries.
WORK AND GLOBALIZATION
Coordinator: Ada Donno
The spotlight was on the Italian experience. The effect of globalization on the north and south was examined and a general appreciation was expressed. The cultural and economic levels of globalization all over the world are negative; Even the European countries were affected by the negative aspects of globalization. In Italy there is a conflict between workers and the government, especially on issues regarding women. The southern countries had other problems: The unity of the family is lost and the exploitation of women is there. But there are not only negative but positive points too: technology, intellectual dissemination etc.
They recommended the following:
Nullification of the debt of the third world countries
Free circulation of people and abolition of European laws stopping immigration
Participation of women in the decision-making processes.
RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GLOBALIZATION
Coordinator: Anissa Smati
Through history we shed light on two periods: First, before World War I, when women's rights were not important and second, after World War II, when women's rights were important and many conferences on the issue were organized.
The problem of Cypriot women was discussed, especially when investors left and went in search of cheap labour outside Cyprus. Women in Cyprus are not fairly paid.
In Algeria and Morocco the rights of women are closely connected with religion. We demand the implementation of the international resolutions without conditions. We ask that women be given all their rights. Respect of women's rights must stem from interpretations away from religion. Arab societies must do something about educating the children and implementing women's rights. Women all over the world are intellectually similar.
11.00 - 11.30 Coffee Break
AWMR Member's Meeting
11.00 - 13.30
13.30 - 15.00 Lunch
CLOSING PLENARY SESSION
15.00 - 18.30
The Workshop Rapporteurs presented summaries of what was discussed during the morning sessions and the workshop participants endorsed them. They are included herewith, under each workshop title.
All three are attached on separate papers.
The conference closed with the AWMR President thanking the Moroccan organizers and the participants and announcing the 11th AWMR Conference to be held in Italy, July 2003, on World Peace.