This is a multifaceted
project that offers students an opportunity to learn about the impact
of globalization by studies in the classroom as well as by traveling as
delegates to the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with workers in factories
owned by multinational corporations who have joined with other workers
to seek better pay and working conditions.
A primary source of information about globalization
is offered in a classroom setting through the seminar on Women, Law and
the Global Economy. The focus
of this seminar is to have students appreciate that the global economy today
is highly gendered and to examine through independent research projects
the myriad ways in which globalization affects women and their families.
In contemporary social and
political discourse “globalization” is touted as an unquestioned benefit
to the world. But in recent
times, protests against the meetings held by the leaders of a few nations
and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have raised questions about whether
or not those economic decisions would positively affect the rights of
workers to living wages or to adequate housing, nutrition, medical care
and environmentally safe communities.
To interrogate the relationship
between globalization and gender is to place the feminist inquiry into
the trend of globalizing infuences in every aspect of ordinary people’s
example, expanded tourism to new exotic places for privileged members
of the first world countries, often translates into exploitation of women’s
bodies for prostitution, sexual slavery trafficking and cheap sources
for underground pornography industries.
new imports of products from electronic, clothing and toy manufacturers
to be sold in U.S. domestic markets at slashed prices can be tracked to
new production and assembly factories in third world countries who have
hired mostly women to work long hours under sweatshop conditions for paltry
wages. Their employers are
typically part of a network of corporations engaged in the global “race
to the bottom of the wage scale” in the effort to out-do a competitor
for higher shareholder profits and larger pieces of the consumer pie.
students rarely have the opportunity to come face to face with the reality
of the law’s impact on policymaking and on the decisions of large companies
who are dictating the terms of life today for millions of people under
the rules and regulations of the World Bank, the WTO and trade pacts like
NAFTA or CAFTA.
way of demystifying the terms of free versus fair trade or global economics
is to meet some of those people who are working in the factories whose
ownership can be traced to the fanciest office headquarters of multinational
corporations listed in the Fortune 500.
Scheduled delegations to the Mexican border which initiate in
Austin, Texas take qualified applicants for a weekend experience in meeting
and talking primarily women volunteers for the Mexican labor group known
as Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s
project seeks to take seriously the role of gender in globalization, and
to give students the opportunity to ask the hard questions about the ways
in which culture or norms of masculinity and femininity are being used or
abused to undermine the basic right to human dignity by all regardless of
their gender, age, class, race, color, religion or physical ability and
irrespective of what part of the world they live in.