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Rural Women and Globalization One of the most striking phenomena of globalization has been the extent to which

women have increased their share of the labor force; the increasing participation of women in paid work has been driving employment trends and the gender gaps in labor force participation rates have been shrinking. Especially in the 1980s and early 1990s, labor force growth was substantially higher for women than for men for every region of the world including the Caribbean countries. In Jamaica, as in the rest developing countries, globalization shifted agriculture to capital intensive, chemical intensive systems, made women bear disproportionate cots of both displacement and health hazards, and forced them to carry the heavier work burden in food production, as well as getting lower returns for their work, because of gender discrimination. In addition, when the World Trade Organization [WTO] adopted rules pertinent to dumping, it destroyed rural livelihoods, which led to decline in prices of farm products, it is women, already with low incomes, which loose the most and go down further. Womens position vis--vis World Trade Organization is also more vulnerable because as the livelihoods and incomes of farmers in general, and women agriculturists in particular are eroded, they are displaced from productive roles. Women in agriculture and their status are further undervalued, while the patriarchal power of those who control assets and benefit from asset transfer due to globalization is increased. Agriculture continues to play an important role in most developing economies such as Jamaica (the third largest foreign exchange earner and the second largest employer of labor), as it represents a significant source for the countrys export earning, employment and rural livelihoods. FAO estimates that farming remains the only source of income for some 70 percent of the worlds rural poor. Throughout the developing world, however, agriculture is still struggling. Despite significant increases in the value of world trade in food products over the past twenty years, the share of developing countries in world food trade is essentially at the same level (27 percent). Indeed, for all the economic opportunities associated with globalization and increased international trade, small farmers (for the most part women) in Jamaica often cannot compete in overseas markets, while frequently having to compete with foreign imports in the domestic market. Within the past two decades, globalization has created a tremendous impact on the lives of women in developing nations in general and in Jamaica particularly. Globalization can be defined as a complex economic, political, cultural, and geographic process in which the mobility of capital, organizations, ideas, discourses, and peoples has taken a global or transnational form. With the establishment of international free trade policies, such as North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and GATT, transnational corporations are using the profit motive to guide their factories toward developing nations in search of cheap labor preferring female labor over male labor because women are considered to be docile workers, who are willing to obey production demands at any price. In developing nations, such as Jamaica, certain types of work, such as garment assembly, is considered to be an extension of female household roles.

Agriculture (17 % of labor force), together with forestry and fisheries, constitutes the core of Jamaican economy (about 6.6 % of GDP), sustaining food security and rural development. However, per capita estimates for Jamaican agricultural production, whether for export or domestic markets, declined during the 1990s. As the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Jamaica, in particular, has only marginal participation in world agricultural markets, its contribution to global agricultural exports amounting to just one percent in the late 1990s. Small farmers, male and female, in Jamaica have historically faced constraints ranging from a lack of credit and technology, through inadequate rural infrastructure and land tenure systems, to civil conflict. Reduced overseas development assistance to agriculture and a corresponding decline in direct foreign investment has hit small farmers. But it is the use of agricultural subsidies and tariffs by many developed countries to support their own farming sectors which has perhaps the greatest adverse impact on the sustainable development of agriculture in the worlds poorest countries such as Jamaica. These challenges are exacerbated when the processes of globalization erode the traditional organization of agricultural systems, especially in instances where the division of labor is inflexible, with women having primary responsibility for household food security. Under this type of set-up, adjustments to trade liberalization and the global integration of markets disproportionately affect women. The demand for crops to be produced at globally competitive prices means that areas cultivated by women for household food consumption are swallowed up by the commercial planting of land, at the expense of food security. This forces women onto the wage labor market, as they now require access to monetary income in order to obtain the food needed in the household.