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10th Annual Conference

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

July 12-14, 2002 - Marrakech, Morocco

Reinventing Globalization: A Socialist-Feminist Perspective

Dr. Valentine M. Moghadam
Director of Women's Studies and Associate
Professor of Sociology
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois 61790-4260, USA

Globalization is a contested and a complex phenomenon. Approaches to the study of globalization vary by discipline and by political orientation, and expectations of globalization are varied. Many feel that the current model of neo-liberal economic globalization has very negative effects on people - especially workers, the poor, women, children, and most Third World countries, including the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. Others - particularly conventional economists, politicians in many rich countries, and those associated with the major global financial and economic institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO - argue that it is necessary and desirable, and that it increases interdependence, economic growth and prosperity.

Globalization - the latest stage of capitalism - has given rise to many debates concerning its economic, cultural and political dimensions, and its social implications. Where supporters emphasize convergence, collaboration and integration, detractors stress divergence, competition and exclusion. Among economists a debate has arisen as to whether globalization has increased or decreased poverty and inequalities. The available evidence confirms the growth of inequalities, both within and across countries. Certainly, when one looks at "globalization from above" - particularly its economic dimension - the picture is not a pretty one.

At the same time, the defeat of the MAI in 1998 and the worldwide cycle of protests against globalization since Seattle in late 1999 indicates the emergence of a global movement against such inequalities. Women - and women's organizations - are part of this anti-systemic, counter-hegemonic movement for global economic justice.

Therefore, it is useful to look also at "globalization from below" - globalization not only as a project of capitalist markets, the capitalist classes, and the major international financial and economic institutions, but also as a project of people, that is, forms of global solidarity, organization and mobilization against inequality, poverty, human rights violations and environmental degradation. What is remarkable about the past 20 years is the growth of global social movements, transnational advocacy networks and transnational feminist networks. This is a movement that seeks to reorient globalization away from its exclusive focus on the interests of the international financial and trade institutions and toward the realization of human development and democratic decision-making.

In this regard, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of transnational feminist networks, the socialist-feminist critique of current international financial and trade arrangements and the formulation of an alternative set of arrangements. Demands for "gender justice and economic justice", attention to women's unpaid as well as paid labour, implementation of the Tobin tax on financial transactions, a return to developmentalist and welfarist state policies and women's input into national, and global, economic decision-making processes are critical elements of a socialist-feminist perspective on reinventing globalization.

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