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10th Annual Conference

The Impact of Globalisation on Mediterranean Countries
A Women's Perspective

July 12-14, 2002 - Marrakech, Morocco

  • Yana Mintoff-Bland - President of AWMR
  • Khadija Al Feddy - President of HERD

    Dr. Yana Mintoff-Bland, Malta - President of AWMR
    Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region

    "The Impact of Globalization on Mediterranean Countries : Women's Perspective" was the subject of discussion and a unanimously agreed final statement at the 10th annual conference of the Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region (AWMR) held in co-operation with the Association of Human Environment and Development Networks (HERD) at Marrakech, Morocco from July 12th to July 14th, 2002.

    Sixty participants from nine countries engaged in a historical and detailed analysis of globalization enriched by local analyses by academics and activists, women and men, in magical Marrakech.

    Mmme Warda, arabic teacher, said:
    There is no country where women have won all their rights. Men still act with arrogance, oppression, and lack of communication. Patriarchal, capitalist globalization is primarily negative. The North is colonizing the South, men are colonizing women. We should stop acting as losers. The economy must be at the service of the people- all people, not a small rich minority.

    The negative effects of capitalist globalization were studied in three main categories:
    1. increased inequalities leading to global apartheid;
    2. increased violence, militarization and wars leading to a reign of terror;
    3. increased ecological disasters.
    Parallel and sometimes opposed to the globalization of capital is the international growth of religious fundamentalism such as Islamic, Christian and Jewish fundamentalism. Their growth and manifestation in instances of violence against women and children in the Mediterranean were analysed.

    The third strand in globalization is a grassroots, democratic process that has spread through information and solidarity networks for economic and social justice, access to local and global decision-making, justice, equality, and human rights. This movement is being led by environmental, workers, and women's organizations which share a common critique of capitalism, patriarchy, and fundamentalism.

    The importance and uniqueness of the Mediterranean Region was celebrated at this meeting. Mediterranean cultural, historical, and socio-economic heritage has enriched the lives of Mediterranean people over thousands of years. At this crossroad between capitalist globalization, religious fundamentalism and democratic internationalism, between war and peace, the conference participants urged Mediterranean people and Mediteranean leaders to stand together to
    1. ensure equality between genders, races, and classes;
    2. restrain imperialism and respect the dignity and sovereignty of each nation
    3. support the creation of a Palestinian state and re-united Cyprus;
    4. reduce the role of multi-national corporations and advance sustainable local development, education and welfare;
    5. make the state a tool for progress and protection of human rights rather than a tool of political, economic, or military oppression;
    6. create democratic regional and international institutions and promote the role of women in decision making.
    The next AWMR conference will be organized by our Italian branch in Bologna June 2003 on the theme of Peace.

    For more information and to receive AWMR newsletters contact
    by the President and Founder of AWMR Dr. Yana Bland from Malta.

    Khadija Al Feddy, Morocco - President of HERD
    Human, Environment and Development Networks

    The Conference Opening Speech

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    Mr. the President of the urban community of Marrakesh.
    Mrs. the President of the Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region,
    Mrs. the President of the Moroccan labour association of women.
    Mr. the regional coordinator of the committee of solidarity with the Palestinian people,
    Mrs. the representative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
    Mrs. the representative of the Ministry in charge of the handicapped and of women and family affairs,
    Dear honourable guests,
    Dear colleagues.

    On behalf of the association ( HERD) and its staff members, we would like to say welcome all.

    We are extremely delighted to have you here amongst us today.

    This cultural event is organised by our association in collaboration with the Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region. its members pertaining to different countries along with its regional offices in Malta, Cyprus, Italy, France, Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, and the United States whose support has always been unfailing.

    To all, let me express special, cordial and warm welcome in this fabulous city, Marrakesh.

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    The choice of Morocco to host this tenth conference can be ascribed to two reasons: First, a concern for geographic mobility. Second, a recognition of Morocco as a very influential and integral part of the Mediterranean Basin.

    The choice of Marrakesh is equally revealing inasmuch as it is the city that once hosted the ratification of the GAT convention. Thus , the subject matter of this conference revolves around "The Impact of Globalisation upon the Mediterranean Countries-Women's Perspectives".

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    The process of globalisation has always been restricted to circulating capitals, business exchanges, the lifting of customs barriers among countries, access to new technologies, the creation of free exchange zones, and to the political and economic changes, regardless of any political and social repercussions that these transformations may have.

    The impact of this process upon women's life-style may be positive or negative. It is determined by intrinsic factors such as: race, social class, nationality, age, the intellectual level and so on....

    If globalisation has positive effects upon a certain number of women in terms of the increase in job opportunities. access to up-to-date technologies, and consumption capability, it is, however, for most women, synonymous with hard labour, insecurity, suppression of social services, privatisation of companies, and suppression of jobs.

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    We're thoroughly and without any reservations for a globalisation that is fair, more human, and where in the individual's needs are taken into account; a globalisation that protects the individual's dignity, his cultural identity, and his universal human rights. We're, however, altogether opposed to a globalisation that rests on multinational and greedy firms whose main objective is profit-making. This conference centres on the following theme: The Impact of Globalisation upon the Mediterranean Countries - Women's Perspectives.

    To scrutinise very closely the social economic, political, ecological, and cultural effects of the New World Order upon the life-style of the Mediterranean women, the participants will present reports on vivid experiences lived by those women. This will, undoubtedly, raise controversial debates that will, on the one hand, yield reasonable alternatives, and bring out, on the other hand, the negative and exploitative aspects of globalisation.

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    Our annual meetings are surely work and exchange spaces designed to devise a work project that aims at a political and organisational change. They are also concerned with establishing campaigns of sensitisation in order to share and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the matter at issue.

    To generate an informative openness and to draw the profile of women's stakes throughout the Mediterranean region and throughout the world, it is incumbent upon us to work collectively so as to formulate a number of alternatives, striving for a genuine economic development and laying down regional and local structures with a view to highlighting and strengthening women's rights.

    The world keeps on changing, and I believe that it is high time we had a say in the matter. The era of globalisation, the deep social disparities, and the weakening of the power of local authorities galvanise women into thinking about solutions and contriving new models.

    Women constitute 50% of the world population and 33% of the official labour force. They represent 66% of the world total income and possess less than 1% of the world property. These discriminations are not an invention of the New World Order. They are deeply rooted in the drab conditions of inferiority of women that date back to the past. But it seems that the New World Order epitomised by the greedy and multinational firms has no readiness whatsoever to put an end to these discriminations and exploitations. On the contrary, it does its utmost to reinforce those discriminations for they are deemed to be a source of profit.

    This is the reality of the exploitation of women. The stakes of the emancipation of women reside in the decrease of the unbridled control of the greedy and multinational firms over the population. Once this source of oppression is dispensed with, the scales will fall from women's eyes.

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    The traditional forms of authority in society (the state, the political parties, the religious force, syndicate) are bit by bit fading away and becoming subservient to the big, greedy multinational companies.

    If women are excluded and placed on the periphery by traditional authorities, they will be more and more so under the New World Order. The discarding of barriers for free exchange of merchandise and capitals is designed both to exploit the raw materials of Third World countries and to invest in manufactured industries, despite the political independence of Third World nations.

    The North-South relations are marked by subordination and dependence. It is the North that has the upper-hand for it possesses all means of production.

    It's the North that determines the price for Third World first produce and for the imported products and technology.

    The gap grows wider and wider between the increase in the prices of the techniques and products imported by Third World countries and the decrease or at best the stagnation of the prices paid for the products of the Third World.

    This simply reinforces the idea that the terms of exchange are dictated by industrial and exploitative countries. The chasm becomes more poignant as the greedy multinational companies work according to concerned plan.

    To make more and more profits, the exploitative firms increase the prices of the technology and the products exported to the Third World. Worse than that, the above-mentioned firms' offshoots increase the prices of the products made in Third World countries. Therefore, the Third World economy is deeply affected. Moreover, women cannot escape the negative and drastic impact of the mass media for the latter imposes a certain consumer behaviour.

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    World statistics reveal that there are two kinds of worlds: a developed world and a developing one. Nevertheless, the development or rather the enrichment of the countries of the North goes hand in hand with the impoverishment of the countries of the South.. what we have indeed is two different and opposing worlds: a developed, industrial world and an under-developed one. Frankly speaking, the greedy multinational firms have no policy whatsoever respecting the creation and development of jobs.

    With respect to the local manpower, the multinational companies are and more concerned with profit-making than with the lot of the labour force . The establishment of those firms in Third World countries has hitherto led to unemployment and is a hard blow to local craftsmen. In this regard, women remain the social category that is mostly affected by unemployment.

    Starting from these hypotheses and bearing in mind the promotion of women's rights, the participants will tackle the following questions:

    How to rethink globalisation so as to strengthen human rights and women's rights in particular?

    What are the advantages and the drawbacks of the New World Order?

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