Women's livelihoods, global markets and citizenship

Women's livelihoods, global markets and citizenship

The underlying assumption of the economic integration epitomised by
globalisation was that it would lead to greater economic participation and an enhancement of livelihood opportunities, which in turn would have positive impacts on citizens and their practice of citizenship. This integration would open new spaces and create new mechanisms for interaction between various actors in governance processes.

Economic participation in the global economy manifests in two principal ways: the export of local products for global marketing through multinational corporations (MNCs), or the local marketing of goods that are globally produced by MNCs. Both models have the potential to increase livelihood
opportunities for the poor and those hitherto excluded from the market. If the second model is followed, what avenues for market integration might create more sustainable livelihoods for rural women? Can this model provide a sustainable source of income for such women? As rural women are integrated into global markets, what are the implications for their identities? Do they see themselves as an integral part of the global marketplace, with important links to the global economy? Or do they continue to maintain local, regional or maybe national identities? When these women claim rights, to whom do they turn? Do they ask governments to mediate on their behalf? Do they consider the medium of their integration, the MNCs, as their obligator? What kinds of organising efforts evolve for such claim-making purposes?

This paper examines Project Shakti, an initiative promoted jointly by the
government of India and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), the Indian division of Unilever, a large multinational corporation. It looks at the ways in which changing patterns of power and governance affect the meaning, experiences and practices of citizenship in a globalising world.