Women’s livelihoods, global markets and citizenship
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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 attempts to answer these questions through an analysis of Project Shakti, an initiative of Hindustan Unilever Limited, promoted by the Indian government.