The impact of globalization and employment restructuring has had important consequences for gender- and equality-related policies worldwide. Investors and multinational companies have enjoyed much greater freedom to move capital from one country to another, thereby creating jobs in lower labour cost countries and destroying jobs in those with more expensive labour.
Women are often the first to feel both the positive and negative effects because international capital tends to be invested in more labour-intensive production, which tends to be female dominated owing to lower wages of women workers in these sectors. In the process of globalization, female participation in paid employment has considerably increased. This, however, has not led to equal benefit from their integration into the labour market, which remains highly gender segregated.
Many countries have responded to this economic process with legislative and administrative changes, in order to liberalize national labour standards and working conditions, and to make them more flexible. There is growing concern, expressed particularly in the international debate, that economic globalization must have " a human face ", and be accompanied by a set of minimum standards in the social field. The tendency to level down social and labour standards in the process of globalization needs to be tackled. Political, business and trade union leaders must accept their shared responsibility and pay attention to international labour standards, thus contributing to improving working conditions for both women and men.
→ see also Fundamental principles and rights at work and Export-processing zones
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