Globalisation, gender and environment | ANALYSIS

By Gift Mazhozho

GLOBALLY, the evidence has been mounting in linking gender equality and enhanced environmental outcomes. In fact, evidence reveals that there is a correlation between environment and gender; when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation are also high.

Gender inequality is one of the most persistent risks to sustainable development and is adversely affecting the access to, and the use of natural resources such as water and land. Other factors such as climate change and environmental disasters exacerbate these inequalities and make the inequality gap even wider. Globalisation has the potential to contribute to greater gender equality.

However, in the absence of public policy, globalisation alone cannot end gender inequality. Despite significant increases in agency and in access to economic opportunities for many women in many countries, large gender gaps remain in some areas especially in developing countries such as Zimbabwe.

Globalization and its effects on environment are diverse which include an increased emissions thereby the farther a product travels, the more fuel is consumed, and a greater level of greenhouse gas emissions is produced. These emissions contribute to pollution, climate change, and ocean acidification around the world and have been shown to significantly impact biodiversity.

Looking at the gender dimensions of globalization is essential for promoting a “fair globalization”, one that, according to the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization (WCSDG), creates opportunities for all, does not exacerbate existing problems of inequality within and between nations, and enables men and women to equally gain from the benefits of globalization, gender and environment. 

Overall, the study indicated that trade liberalization and globalisation through spill over effects and increased demand for female labour could lead to increased education and health facilities for women in turn leading to increased gender inequality.

Globalization brought its own challenges to various companies such as exploitation of foreign workers and local job losses among others. Consumers benefits mostly from low costs products but because of competition, some companies resort to looking for cheap labour especially in developing countries resulting in exploitation of labour force. Western based multinational companies had shipped their production facilities to various Asian countries such as China, Malaysia and Indonesia among others where labour costs are cheap supported by sloppy regulation leading to exploitation of workers.

Activists have pointed out that globalization has led to an increase in the consumption of products, which has impacted the ecological cycle. Increased consumption leads to an increase in the production of goods, which in turn puts stress on the environment.

Globalization improves the global economy, expands knowledge, and free trade. In general, globalization decreases the cost of manufacturing. This means that companies can offer goods at a lower price to consumers. The average cost of goods is a key aspect that contributes to increases in the standard of living.

Consumers also have access to a wider variety of goods. The major consequences of globalization have been: the transmogrification of traditional religions and belief systems; the beginning of the disintegration of the traditional social fabrics and shared norms by consumerism, cyber-culture, new-fangled religions and changing work ethics and work rhythms. Some effects of gender inequalities include less cohesive societies. These societies have higher rates of anti-social behaviour and violence.

Countries with greater gender equality are more connected. Their people are healthier and have better wellbeing. Gender inequality also represents a huge loss of human potential, with costs for men as well as for women. Gender equality is therefore integral to democracy, economic development and a human rights system to which all people are entitled. Gender Equality is very important at nowadays. It is because women have to deserve an equal rights the same as men such as education, political rights, and economic rights among others.

Women also may get a good education with the power to change the world, for giving an opinion, and sharing what they feel socially, politically and economically.

Negative impacts on the environment include an increase in consumption of products, affecting the ecological cycle. It also includes pollution caused by factories polluting the environment. This result in contributing to the depletion of natural resources, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. In developing countries, globalization affects negatively on the volume and volatility of capital flows, increases the risks of banking and currency crises, especially in countries with weak financial institutions.

Competition among developing countries to attract foreign investment leads to a “race to the bottom” in which countries dangerously lower environmental standards.

  • Gift Mazhozho is an Msc student in Politics and International Relations at the University of Zimbabwe

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