Gender matters to Capital / Women's struggles and the Antiglobalisation movement

Public Debate

Bénédicte Liénard's film Une Part du Ciel ends with the protagonist saying "You just have to resiste.": But what forms of effective resistance and struggles do we imagine in times when many women's lives are becoming more and more precarious?°°

Currently we are witnessing a new transnational division of labour and the mobility of capital that results in a profound restructuring of labour markets all over the world. In Europe, this has meant de-industrialisation as multinational companies move their production activities to the South and East, resulting in new forms of unemployment. New working opportunities are offered primarily in the service sector, drawing to a large extent on women (often migrants) in often poorly protected working conditions. These developments are, for instance, strikingly visible in Slovenia where currently the entirely textile industry is gradually shutting down, with severe consequences for the workers, mainly women. Given the global dimension of these processes, the challenge is to develop transnational perspectives without falling into the trap of protectionism.
The most relevant political movements confronting these issues seem to be the anti-globalisation movements. Although they have always involved many women, and some of the early movements, especially in the Global South, were established by women, now, as they gain visibility, feminist perspectives are rather absent. On the other hand, no vital women's movement appears to be dealing with these issues in all their complexity, neither in "the West", nor in "the East".
Given the centrality of gender in the processes of global restructuring (capitalism especially uses the raced and sexed bodies of women in its search for profit), it is of utmost importance that women's movements get involved in order to overcome the dearth of feminist perspectives and issues within the anti-globalisation movements and in order to work towards more inclusive and accurate analysis and action.
City of Women and the Slovene Peace Institute invite women scholars and activists to share their analysis of the current developments and to propose new visions for transnational feminist and women's struggles.
Bettina Knaup

For more on this, see Sarah Bracke, Different Worlds Possible: Feminist Yearnings for Shared Futures, and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, (forthcoming), Feminist without Borders, Durham London 2003

Women and globalisation
As a term, "globalisation" has been marching freely through our lives over the past decade. But the more ubiquitously we encounter, the less clear its meaning seems to be. So let's define it: in my view, globalisation is the global expansion of the worldwide system of liberal capitalism. This can only be a terrorist process, and its main two weapons are a cultural-ideological offensive promoting the values and lifestyles of the "Western World" and an aggressive marketing of the supposedly superior "Western political democracy".
Resistance to globalisation often comes with unhappy stories: ethnic conflict, nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and so on.
The new global restructuring of the world brings new inclusions and new exclusions; it introduces new forms of inequality between the sexes and reinforces old ones.
What is public has been redefined and is subject now to private capital, which means women are even more pushed away from the sources of power and decision-making, despite the fact that they may be allowed to work and sometimes one of them is even elected a "representative of the people". The old mechanisms of emancipation and "climbing the corporate ladder" have become ineffective, since productive work is becoming less and less important and the power of political representatives is becoming weaker. The power that counts today has been shifting from the public world of politics to the private, non-political world of supernational finance and investment. This is why it is essential to articulate a new solidarity in the new arenas of resistance.
Tanja Rener

Tanja Rener is a sociologist and professor at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana. She has collaborated with numerous women's NGO's and is currently politically active in the Forum for the Left.

Transition, Globalisation and Living Laboratories
At the end of the second millennium an extensive social engineering experiment was conducted in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the countries emerging from socialist systems that are commonly known today under the label "societies in transition" or "post-socialist countries". These countries, which share a totalitarian communist past, are facing similar issues of political, economic and social transformation as they deal with such processes as privatisation, political democratisation and globalisation.
The consequences of globalisation have not bypassed these societies in transition; on the contrary, they are extremely deep, including in the area of equal rights for women.
Jana Javornik

Jana Javornik is a sociologist who currently works at the Office for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development. She helped establish the Slovene Report on Human Development and is the editor on the most recent report. She is active in various fields, all connected with the question of equal rights for women.

Positions, Situations, Short-circuits:
La Eskalera Karakola, a deliberate space

Maggie Schmitt, Silvia Lopez, La Eskalera Karakola, Madrid

"We occupy. We occupy and we talk about territories. We situate ourselves as a node crossed by thousands of circuits. Circuits and accelerated currents. We are in the very mouth of the monster. We move, we decide, we talk politics. We situate ourselves and unmask our own bodies, our own lives, our own inhabiting of this city, this neighborhood, this social center"
La Eskalera Karakola, Positions, Situations, Battles

La Eskalera Karakola is a women's occupied house in a multiethnic working class neighbourhood in the centre of Madrid. For six years, la Karakola has served as a convergence point and a point of departure for feminist thought and political action both in the neighbourhood and in the far-flung feminist networks in which we participate. An open and changing collective of women -- of various sexualities, nationalities, class and educational backgrounds-- maintain the house as a public space for women, and from this space we generate projects which extend beyond the house itself.
One of the most active projects in the Karakola in the last year has been Precarias a la Deriva, (Precarious Women Adrift) a project of collective investigation which attempts to map the circuits of feminised precarious work/non-work in the metropolis with an eye to creating new alliances and inventing new points of conflict within the tremendous diversity of part-time, flexible, immaterial, unregulated, multiple, no-contract, no-benefits, at home, project-basis, freelance, illegal or invisible employment situations.

Silvia Lopez and Maggie Schmitt are doctoral students at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and live in and work for La Escalera Karakola.

Concept: Bettina Knaup, Vesna Leskošek
Participants: Tanja Rener, Jana Javornik (Slovenia), Silvia Lopez and Maggie Schmitt (Spain), moderator: Vesna Leskošek

Organisation: City of Women & Peace Institute
In co-operation with: Cankarjev dom


Date and time of event: 
Oct 14th 16:00
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom, E3