Women's Burden: Counter-Geographies of Globalization and the Feminization of Survival

in Nordic Journal of International Law
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Abstract

The global migration and trafficking of women is anchored in particular features of the current globalization of economies in both the north and the south. Making this legible requires that we look at globalization in ways that are different from the mainstream view, confined to emphasizing the hypermobility of capital and to the ascendance of information economies. The growing inmiseration of governments and whole economies in the global south has promoted and enabled the proliferation of survival and profit-making activities that involve the migration and trafficking of women. To some extent these are older processes, which used to be national or regional that can today operate at global scales. The same infrastructure that facilitates cross-border flows of capital, information and trade is also making possible a whole range of cross-border flows not intended by the framers and designers of the current globalization of economies. Growing numbers of traffickers and smugglers are making money off the backs of women and many governments are increasingly dependent on their remittances. A key aspect here is that through their work and remittances, women enhance the government revenue of deeply indebted countries and offer new profit making possibilities to `entrepreneurs' who have seen other opportunities vanish as a consequence of global firms and markets entering their countries or to long time criminals who can now operate their illegal trade globally. These survival circuits are often complex, involving multiple locations and sets of actors constituting increasingly global chains of traders and `workers'. A central point of the article is that it is through these supposedly rather value-less economic actors – low-wage and poor women – that key components of these new economies have been built. Globalization plays a specific role here in a double sense, contributing to the formation of links between sending and receiving countries, and, secondly, enabling local and regional practices to become global in scale.

Women's Burden: Counter-Geographies of Globalization and the Feminization of Survival

in Nordic Journal of International Law

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