what can we learn form the ground level perspective on the consequences of the global and national forces that go under the labels of “globalization” and “economic reform”?
i. The effects of globalization and economic reforms on poor women are highly differentiated and nuanced, so a blanket analysis or stance is not justified. Some features of the economic reform process, such as reducing the role of the state in Forestry, and some consequences of greater openness, such as the easier access to international markets for poor women’s products, are beneficial to poor women. But other features are not.
ii. Despite the benefits of globalization and economic reform, the three troubling features identified from first principles—relative decline in unskilled wages, increased risk and vulnerability, and a declining bargaining power of unskilled labor—are indeed seen in ground level experience.
iii. Maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs requires active management of the process of globalization and economic reform with the outcomes for poor in mind. A hands off policy, is not an option. Strategies for management should be developed by listening to the experiences of the poor and their representatives.
iv. In some cases, managing the negative consequences may indeed involve some slowing of the pace of reform or opening up, as in the case of the mechanization of the construction sector. In all cases, direct interventions to enhance the skills of the poor, and to develop insurance tools to manage the risks they face, will be crucial. These interventions need to combine government action and action by organizations of the poor.
v. The poor, and especially unskilled poor women, need organization to counteract the growing economic power of capital and skilled labor as a result of their greater national and global mobility. Organization is also the sine qua non for representation of the interests of poor women in local, national and global policy making councils.