NEO-LIBERALISM AND NEO-CONSERVATISM HAVE DECLARED WAR ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE US AND AROUND THE WORLD. CLINTON AND OBAMA ARE THE FACE OF NEO-LIBERALISM AND CONGRESS IS CONTROLLED BY NEO-LIBERALS. TAKE BACK THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!
I will talk a few days about neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism and women. Yesterday I shared a piece from an International Women's meeting in Europe--- for openDemocracy 5050 from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference. I also want to remind people that Maryland League of Women Voters leaders knew all the candidates in Maryland's race for Governor ----Brown, Gansler, and Mizeur -----were neo-liberals. It is critical to take back these organizations tasked with protecting labor and justice.
If you listened to Tom Friedman and other neo-liberal economists over these few decades after Reagan/Clinton neo-liberalism joined the Bush neo-conservatives you would have heard that US sweat shops in developing worlds were good for those poor peasants. Now that US corporations are being pushed out of these developing worlds and coming back to the US under the guise of job creation----they will bring these same conditions. Do you know that many low-wage workers in the US both domestic and immigrant do not bring home much more than the developing world's $10 a day after wage theft and fraudulent independent contractor status is laid on them? Indeed-----and Maryland leads in these policies.
THIS IS NEO-LIBERALISM AND NEO-CONSERVATISM.....IT IS NOT DEMOCRATIC OR REPUBLICAN AND IT KILLS WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND FAMILIES.
If you are going to push women back into poverty and out of the workforce in a meaningful way the first thing to do in a formerly first world where women gained freedom and independence because they were able to work and graduate to high positions is pretend they are winning in the race to the bottom. Women paid more in part time jobs as women become the majority of part time workers. As job creation becomes service industry this means poverty jobs. Just a quick look locally I have noticed a change in banks in Baltimore---it seems that the once abundance of women bank management behind desks now looks to be all men. I seriously have seen no women in my M and T banks except as tellers. When jobs are made scarce you will see that mentality that men need the jobs because they are the breadwinner come back and that is what is happening. Is it bad to remove financial freedom from women in the US? Well, let's look at the rate of domestic violence, rape, and sexual harassment growing in the US -----the growing sex traffic of women in the US to see abusing women comes with neo-liberalism.
IF NO RULES/RULE OF LAW AND NO PUBLIC JUSTICE EXIST-----WOMEN LOSE.
This Is The One Area Where Women Earn More Than Men
- Nov. 7, 2013, 9:28 AM
There's one area where the gender wage gap is irrelevant and even reversed. Women consistently earn more than men in part-time jobs, which women are also more likely to have.
Look below at the article written by Korean women rights groups to see the history of subjugation of women in that country to see where neo-liberalism is taking the US. We are pummeled with news that women are graduating from college in higher numbers than men but we do not get the big picture. First, college grads represent a large percentage of the 36% unemployed in the US and women more so than men. So, women may be graduating in larger numbers but they represent those students with large student loan debts as well.
What we see is a gender change in careers that have been mostly female and paying the most to that of men. Nursing and teaching are two careers that have paid well for women and these jobs are being taken more and more by men. Then there comes the pay inequity within the same job categories.....women paid less. What this all represents is the movement of women out of the workforce and into what will be increasingly part time or unemployed status....just as the Korean women state in the article below. That is what neo-liberalism does----it marginalizes women and creates the poverty for women that dis-empowers. Now, Republicans have always pushed policy for women in the home----the problem is that with neo-liberals pushing 80% and more of Americans into poverty------women become trapped and abused----as in all third world countries. So, when neo-liberals place women pay equity on their policy stance as they knowingly push everyone into poverty with a loss of Rule of Law and Equal Protection and Trans Pacific Trade Pact moving US citizens to third world status----THEY ARE HANDING YOU PROPAGANDA.
THAT IS WHERE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS ARE TAKING WOMEN AND THEY ARE SIMPLY PROVIDING STATS THAT MAKE IT SOUND LIKE WOMEN ARE DOING GREAT.
ALL OF MARYLAND POLS ARE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS.
Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation
Women are paid significantly less than men are in nearly every occupation.
Because pay equity affects
women and their families in all walks of life, it is not surprising that many women consider the issue
important. Many business leaders also believe that pay equity is “good business,” because it improves
morale and productivity. Yet progress in closing the gap between men’s and women’s pay has been slow
and, in recent years, has stagnated.
For more than 130 years, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has advocated
for gender equity in education and the workplace. During this time, women have gone from a small
minority on college campuses to a majority of the student body. Today, women make up half the workforce,
but they continue to earn less than men do throughout their careers.
Why does this gender pay gap persist? This question is a focal point of AAUW’s research and advocacy
work. Graduating to a Pay Gap finds that women working full time already earn less than their
male counterparts do just one year after college graduation. Taking a closer look at the data, we find
that women’s choices—college major, occupation, hours at work—do account for part of the pay gap.
But about one-third of the gap remains unexplained, suggesting that bias and discrimination are still
problems in the workplace.
At AAUW, research informs action. As an organization of college-educated women, we believe that
the pay gap among college-educated workers and its ramifications—starting with higher student loan
debt burden immediately after college graduation—are of great importance. AAUW is proud to share
research that you can trust. We hope this report will inspire you to join us in taking action to eliminate
the pay gap.
Keep in mind that the media presenting all of this news knows what the goal of neo-liberalism is---they know women will be targeted for impoverishment. Yet, they pretend it is just that nasty stagnant economy!!!! Neo-liberals pretend Republicans cause the stagnant economy ----Republicans pretend its the Democrats---when it is neo-liberals working with neo-cons deliberately creating the stagnant economy because they want US citizens to overwhelmingly become impoverished....third world.
Student Debt Weighs Down Women More. Blame The Wage Gap
by Jessica Glazer
April 06, 2014 5:18 AM ET NPR
When Kristine Leighton graduated from a private college five years ago with a degree in hospitality, she owed $75,000 in student loans. Each month, she paid the minimum amount of $450 and lived at home with her parents on Long Island, N.Y.
At first, she was working at a hotel for $10 an hour; money was tight. Even after she got a job in Manhattan making $75,000 a year, she still couldn't afford to move out. She funneled her earnings into car payments, credit card bills and debt, and a monthly commuter train pass. The loan payments left little extra money for things like an emergency fund.
Women are not choosing to stay home----they are being pushed out of the workforce and marginized into poverty careers and part time.
Global markets allow corporations to profit from a small number of very rich in nations around the world while keeping the majority of people in each nation in poverty. That is what the Clinton Foundation has worked to do after his pushing of NAFTA and breaking Glass Steagall to grow global corporations and empire-colonialization.
You do not create an environment of suspended Rule of Law, corporate rule, and pervasive fraud and corruption, war and violence from poverty if you have good intentions.
The Mythical ‘Choice’ of the Stay-at-Home Mom
The fact that so much anger erupts at any perceived slight tells us many women are not truly choosing to be home with the kids
By Judith Warner @judithwarner Time
The mood has shifted considerably on last week’s Ann Romney–Hilary Rosen fracas, with poll results showing that most women don’t really care about what Washington insiders have to say about Rosen’s word choice or, for that matter, how Romney chose to spend her time once she had children. Women are shrugging off political attempts to rekindle the tired old “mommy wars” debate, and are getting on with their busy and complicated lives.
I was shocked, nonetheless, by the degree of rage contained in some of the e-mails I received in response to my column last week. I was also deeply surprised this week when a readers’ panel I participated in on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show on the 1899 Kate Chopin novel, The Awakening, devolved, very quickly, back to Rosen-and-Romney talk once again.
The proximate cause: disagreement over the character of Edna Pontellier, a wealthy young New Orleans woman stifling within her loveless marriage and unstimulating, toil-free life (I believe I can say “toil-free” without unduly again stirring the pot: Edna’s children and home are cared for by ample domestic help), who, after experiencing an emotional and sensual “awakening” through infatuation, escapes her husband and children by taking her own life.
Some readers around the country, and I, distanced ourselves from Edna’s “selfishness” in abandoning her children. Others felt we owed much greater compassion to a woman who had such a stark lack of choices. All of which somehow looped back to Rosen and Romney, and maternal stay-at-home loneliness and despair. Diane Rehm, the radio talk-show host, and Jane Holmes Dixon, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, recalled the stifling isolation they’d felt as mothers 50 odd years earlier; they could strongly relate to Edna, as could a number of listeners.
It quickly became clear that the link between this more-than-a-century-old fictional character and these moms writing or calling in to express their solidarity with Edna was simple: misery. It was feelings, current or remembered, of depression, of the sense of a vital loss of self and of a deep maroonedness. Rehm and Dixon, who have known each other for many decades, remembered how important it had been to be able to get together way back then and talk their way through all these feelings. It is still a great unifier of stay-at-home mothers today.
This reality, I think, fuels much of the anger, the desire for recognition, the demand for respect we’ve heard so often of late from this minority of mothers — only 30% of whom, in the U.S., are home full-time with children under 18. Recent research has shown that this group is considerably less happy than working mothers, and less contented than part-time working mothers in particular. Working moms are healthier and less depressed, the American Psychological Association reported late last year. Why they feel this way isn’t hard to imagine. Stay-at-home mothers give up their financial freedom, and with it many feel their sense of agency slip away. Their position of equality with their husbands is by necessity somewhat eroded. They lose the sense of strength that comes from knowing that, come what may, they can keep themselves and their children afloat economically. They lose intellectual stimulation (assuming that they were lucky enough to have it in their jobs anyway), the easy companionship and structure of the workplace, and recognition from the outside world. And if they don’t have the money to outsource domestic jobs, their freedom from paid work comes at the cost of repetitive thankless tasks — laundry, cleaning and the like — that test their patience and can chip away at their self-worth. The pleasure in this life of course is time with the children, but school-age kids leave a void that many find hard to meaningfully fill.
In the past, women lived constricted lives because society didn’t afford them much by way of choice. Today, our society in theory offers them a plethora of choices — so many, “that they’re overwhelmed by the stress of so many choices,” as Maureen Dowd said in her New York Times column this week — but in practice, far too many of these choices are false. A woman who ends up staying home with her kids because her work pays so badly that she can’t afford decent child care really has no choice. Ditto for a woman who has a special-needs child requiring constant medical visits and attention and whose husband earns more than she does, making her the natural, if not necessary, primary parent. The woman whose 55-hour-a-week job combines with her husband’s equally demanding career to produce a level of busyness that makes having a connected family life all but impossible unless one of them (the lower-paid one, of course) stays home isn’t really free in her choices either. How many women, after all — or men, for that matter — are in the enviable position of being able, like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to leave work at 5:30 p.m. in order to make it home for a nice dinner with their kids? If more could, we’d probably see women’s workforce participation sharply increase — economy permitting.
If women were truly choosing to be home full-time, I think there would probably be a whole lot less emphasis on the hard work involved in doing so and a lot more talk about the privilege that choice would then clearly be. The fact that so much anger — masking so much unhappiness — erupts at any perceived slight to stay-at-home mothers’ efforts should tell us that the condition of full-time motherhood is one we should talk about a great deal more — not through Hallmark-worthy platitudes, but with concern and an eye toward change.
This is why neo-liberals and neo-cons are working hard to privatize all public agencies charged with oversight and accountability. No data is being generated from US universities that now dismantle sociology and humanities that created this data. In Maryland, all of our data is questionable as we find time and again that stats reported one year are found to be skewed and/or false a few years later. Create the headline with faulty data say neo-liberals and then bury the fact that the data was found false.
Whether women in the military, women on college campuses, women in marriages, women being used in sex traffic----these are US women being attacked and it all has to do with increasing poverty and suspension of Rule of Law, Equal Protection, and Bill of Rights by neo-liberals and neo-cons.
When neo-liberals in Congress pretend to try to fund these programs but it is the 'republicans' that keep them from doing it ----tell them
TENS OF TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CORPORATE FRAUD FROM LAST DECADE WOULD PAY OFF THE ENTIRE NATIONAL DEBT AND MAKE GOVERNMENT COFFERS FLUSH WITH MONEY-----JUST RECOVER THE FRAUD!
US: Soaring Rates of Rape and Violence Against Women
More Accurate Methodology Shows Urgent Need for Preventive Action December 18, 2008
The National Crime Victimization Survey, based on projections from a national sample survey, says that at least 248,300 individuals were raped or sexually assaulted in 2007, up from 190,600 in 2005, the last year the survey was conducted. The study surveyed 73,600 individuals in 41,500 households. Among all violent crimes, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault showed the largest increases. Except for simple assault, which increased by 3 percent, the incidence of every other crime surveyed decreased.
"The numbers in this survey show an alarmingly high rate of sexual violence in this country," said Sarah Tofte, researcher for the US Program at Human Rights Watch. "This should serve as a wake-up call that more must be done to address the problem in the US."
The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report. By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down.
"Domestic violence is often a hidden crime, and these numbers are a stark reminder of how serious and widespread this problem is," said Tofte. "The Obama-Biden administration should make prevention and protection against all forms of domestic and sexual violence a top priority."
The National Crime Victimization Survey is conducted every two years, with data gathered in phone calls made to a sample of households across the United States. Due to criticism from experts in the subject, the survey's methodology was adjusted in 2007 to capture more accurately the incidence of gender-based violence. The authors say in the report that the higher numbers may reflect the new, more accurate methodology rather than an actual increase. Two major shifts were to describe types of sexual assault to those being interviewed, and to replace "computer-assisted telephone interviews conducted from two telephone centers" nationwide with interviews "by field representatives either by telephone or in person."
"The new numbers indicate that previously, the government significantly underestimated the number of individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence in this country," said Tofte. "Authorities should urgently adjust public policies, law enforcement, and provision of support services accordingly."
Human Rights Watch is currently investigating and monitoring the criminal justice response to sexual violence. The organization's recent work includes investigating the backlog in untested DNA evidence collected in rape cases in the US. In Los Angeles City and County alone, there is a combined total of at least 13,000 untested sets of evidence, known as rape kits, sitting in storage.
Human Rights Watch's national recommendations include:
- The Obama administration should appoint a special adviser on violence against women in the US;
- Congress should restore full funding to the Office on Violence Against Women;
- The Department of Justice, through the National Institute of Justice, should authorize comprehensive studies that more accurately track sexual and domestic violence in the US, especially among individuals who are least likely to be surveyed by the National Crime Victimization Survey;
- Congress should increase funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention, intervention, and treatment programs;
- Congress should amend the federal Debbie Smith Act, a grant program designed to eliminate the rape kit backlog, but that states can and have used for other kinds of DNA backlogs;
- The US should ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women.
Below you can see what is coming to the US----Korea was taken neo-liberal after the Korean War in the late 1950s and shows the progression as it hit full-scale in the 1990s---Reagan/Clinton. Koreans use the term 'irregular worker' for part time. This is long but please glance through because you will read in this history of Korea's takeover by neo-liberals exactly what is happening today. It is women and children who's wealth fell the most in the last decade of corporate fraud---women are the majority of job losses----and the majority working part time in the US. Indeed, women now make up a majority of the poor. Given that women in the US make up a little over 50% of the population----the numbers in poverty are very high.
This is why you have women hitting the political races who are neo-liberals pretending to feel the pain of women driven into poverty by neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism.
HILLARY AND OBAMA REPRESENT THE TWO GROUPS KILLED BY NEO-LIBERALISM AND THAT IS WHY NEO-LIBERALS ARE PUTTING BLACK, HISPANIC, AND FEMALE FACES ON THEIR CANDIDATES.
Remember, less than 10% will be allowed to escape poverty as administrators of this global corporate mess. Don't vote for a candidate because of race or gender! Your chances of remaining in that 10% is slim to nothing.
NEOLIBERALISM THRHOUGH THE EYES OF WOMEN
Joo-Yeon Jeong & Seung-Min Choi, PICIS*
There is no place on Earth where neo-liberalism has not poisoned. It has allowed a handful of private interests to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize personal profit. It has poisonous effects especially in the Third World, where imperial powers continue to pirate natural and human resources to fill the pockets of transnational capitalists. Initiated by Reagan and Thatcher, for the last two decades, neo-liberalism has become the dominant economic and political trend for much of the leftist (so they identify themselves) governments as well as the right.
However, as women fighting against global capitalism and its new phase, as women yearning for a better world where we will not be exploited and abused, we must go a step further into looking into this 'neo-liberalism' through the experiences of women. And it is not just about how women linearly experience it - we must go into the depths to manifest how neo-liberalism operates in a very gender-biased way.
WOMEN WORKERS AS SCAPEGOATS
In Korea, the process of being absorbed into global capitalism began earlier than the economic crisis, during the economic 'hyper '-development era of military dictatorship of Park Jung-Hee, with quite a bit of help from the US. Fluctuating together with global economic crises, the Korean economy started to show signs of a recession from the early 90s, as rate of profit decreased. Thus, capitalists started to adopt policies of introducing flexibility to the labour market. It was 'experimented' on women workers first before taking full force on the entire working class at the end of the millennium.
Jobs where women were predominant started to be transformed in the 1980s, beginning in the form of dispatch labour and eventually expanding to generalisation of irregular labour. However, this process was mainly targeted at women workers and the male-oriented labour movement did not give much importance to it, even though women worker's movement consistently called for the address of the issue.
Although the incorporation of Korean economy into the global capitalist system had already started around a decade ago, Korean people came to experience its destructive nature during and after the economic crisis of 1997. The structural adjustment program of the IMF shook the labour market and massive lay-offs were implemented. In particular, women workers were laid off first, and the working conditions of women workers fell to the ground.
The methods that the management used was subcontracting or abolishing those production lines and business sectors where women were predominant. Women in these places were usually typists or clerical assistants, who were considered not important and cumbersome, and thus provided the logic and justification for the lay-offs. Many companies would lay-off these women, and instead employ workers from dispatch companies - thus providing the management with ways in which to decrease labour costs and evade provision of insurances and benefits. Or in the case of banks, the same worker would be reemployed, but on a contract basis as irregular workers, again to decrease labour costs. Another method of laying off women workers or transforming them into irregular workers, was targeting foremost women who were married to someone in the same workplace, and also those who were pregnant or were on their maternal leave. They provided the management with strong justifications based on patriarchal values of 'women's place is at home'. This process of unjust and discriminatory lay-offs at the onset of the economic crisis saw the deterioration of maternal protection and women worker's rights in general. The achievements that the women worker's movement had accomplished over the last couple of decades were undermined.
"FLEXIBILITY" OF WOMEN WORKERS
The massive lay-offs that occurred after 1997 was obviously not 'inevitable' on the part of the management, but was a calculated process of increasing the rate of profit through flexibility of the labour market. Because the need for lay-offs did not come simply from decrease in production, workers who were laid off were re-employed, but as irregular workers. And because flexibility measures were implemented foremost on women, women were also absorbed again in masses into the labour market, but this time as irregular workers with low wages and low protection.
Attaining flexibility of women workers was backed up by the patriarchal ideology of 'male as breadwinner'1 . Through this ideology, women workers are considered not really as workers, but as 'assistant income providers', the ideology that contributes to devaluation of women's work. And this in turn provided the justification for the primary lay-offs of women and transforming women's jobs into irregular jobs - a justification that quelled the possibility of resistance from the working class. Recently, capitalist institutions and mainstream media elaborate that the rate of women's employment is increasing faster that the rate of men. On one hand, this is due to the increase in absolute number of jobs-irregular jobs for women, but also due to the fact that women do not have much choice than take up highly unstable jobs without any hesitation to earn a living, whereas men can afford to be more 'selective'.
Now, the percentage of irregular workers is risen to higher levels than regular workers. In analyzing a census on the economically-active workforce implemented by the Korean Statistical Office in August 2001, the Korea Labor & Society Institute (www.klsi.org) estimated the number of irregular workers to be 7.37 million, constituting 55.7% of the total workforce2.According to studies made in 2000, out of entire irregular workers, the percentage of women is higher than that of men at 53%, and within the entire women workforce irregular workers take up 70%. These official statistics exclude specially employed labour (for example, the type of jobs that capitalists characterise as self-employment) such as private tutors, insurance sales, golf caddies etc., so if these jobs are included, the rate of irregular women workers will definitely rocket.
Irregular work pertaining to capital's flexibility measures has brought deterioration of working conditions and impoverishment for workers of both genders. But it has affected women workers more severely. At the moment, most of irregular women workers are employed in small enterprises of less than 10 employees. It has driven women's work into the ditches and has also increased mental stress from lack of self-confidence and the fear of losing their jobs. One feminist scholar was interviewing irregular women workers and told of how the interviewees were in constant fear of being seen throughout the interview. Many social psychologists point out that the increase of irregular work and the mental stress that comes from it is becoming a serious social problem that is bound to affect the whole society.
Moreover, with the automation of production lines and transfer of factories in capital's constant search for cheaper labour, many women workers who had originally constituted a large proportion of the workforce in the manufacturing sector are now being absorbed into the service sector - in areas such as the so-called 'entertainment' businesses and as domestic workers. The service sector has rapidly expanded over the last few years in Korea, and many women are being employed as narrator models, telemarketers, and as servers and entertainers in bars. These jobs are not only unstable, low waged and physically strenuous, but they also enforce the use of 'femininity' and sexuality to raise sales, making women more vulnerable to possibilities of sexual abuse and exploitation. Also, because the service sector has always shared a very thin borderline with the sex industry, it is not very surprising that more and more women workers, both young and aged, are being drawn into the sex industry. For example, many married women in their 30's and 40's are employed in the so-called 'telephone rooms (jeon-hwa-bang)' and are forced to have phone sex with men. Many other married women were employed as 'pager women', who are paged to come to bars to 'entertain' men. This became a very heated issue when Daewoo Motors unionists went to a bar, paged women, and came face to face with familiar faces. When Daewoo workers were laid-off, the wives had to find jobs to sustain their families and the only ones available were as 'pager women'. The ruling elite and the conservative media are enthusiastically deploring the moral collapse of Korean women, but the reality is that it is the capitalist system that is corrupting the people.
The situation is not much different on the international arena. Neo-liberal globalisation has paved the way for increase in migrant women workers, international trafficking and enforced sex work in the Third World. In Korea, many women from the Philippines and Russia come to Korea as domestic workers and 'entertainers', and then are tricked into providing sexual services to Korean men and the US military.
WIDENING GAP BETWEEN WOMEN
Neo-liberal globalisation has also impeded the widening of gap between different classes of women. The living standard between women in the developed countries and those in the Third World is now incomparable, as is the situation inside Korea. Rich women of the bourgeoisie can afford to wear fur coats that cost tens of million won, shop in department stores in their imported cars, buy US produced baby food, send their children to expensive private English language schools so that they are reproduced as the minority elite who rule the world of globalisation, and employ women from South-east Asia as housemaids. This is how the minority of women in Korea live, and furthermore, they are not living on the wealth that they had accumulated themselves, but on the wealth accumulated by their husbands. And this in turn is the wealth accumulated from exploiting women workers in Korea and elsewhere in the Third World. In contrast to the minority of women who enjoy the outcome of neo-liberal domination in a good part of the world, majority of women cannot find a proper job no matter how hard they try, and when they do find a job, it is an unstable job in slave-like conditions that can get snatched away from them. They cannot afford domestic help or a nanny - they work for long tiring hours outside and then come home to find piles of dishes to be washed and children to be fed. Also, studies by women's organizations have found that domestic abuse has increased, as husbands and fathers who have lost jobs turn to expressing their anger at their daughters and wives, and resort to violence.
CULTURAL AND IDEOLOGICAL BACKLASH
To quell mass resistance against economic globalisation that has brought about increase in unemployment, decrement of public services, downfall in wages and deterioration of quality of life, the ruling elite has manipulated cultural conservatism to solidify its dominance over society. Cultural conservatism in Korea is represented by Confucian patriarchy. The economic crisis of 1997 saw the rise of this ideology that came together with the capitalist form of 'male as breadwinner' model, and acted to cover up the oppression of women while highlighting the need for women to make more sacrifices for the sake of saving the crumbling economy. In the meanwhile, unemployment of men was highlighted as a serious social problem. Thus the role of women was limited to that of 'comforting' the suffering man in the family, while the sufferings of women both as wage workers and non-wage workers were ignored. The Korean mainstream media and the conservative ruling elite alike have neglected the seriousness of women suffering from sexual abuse on the basis that women should have perseverance, but has spotlighted those desperate women who left home after losing all hopes as destructors of family values. Women who had replaced their husbands as the breadwinners end up in the sex industry, after being rejected from any other type of work, but then are stigmatised as being morally corrupt. The severity of unemployment of male youths appear in the news everyday, whereas female students are not only ignored but are blocked altogether from the labour market. Many right-wing sociologists and economists actually suggested that marriage for women should be more emphasized by the government so as to block women from entering the labour market - and thus lowering the official unemployment rate. The media focuses evermore on the fantasies of marriage, and the 'marriage business' is now enjoying its 'Belle Epoque'.
A CRITIQUE OF KIM DAE-JUNG'S POLICIES ON WOMEN
Kim Dae-Jung's government has been portrayed as being democratic and pro-feminist in and outside of Korea. There were high hopes for this president with his long history of fighting for democracy, and from the beginning, many civil and women's organizations decided to give him 'critical' support. However, his promise of establishing a ministry specific on women's issues was replaced by the Special Committee On Women's Affairs with no legislative powers, much to the disappointment of women's groups. As his presidential term is coming to an end, he did launch the Ministry of Gender Equality during the first half of this year, with a prominent figure from a major women NGO seated as the Minister. However, the policies that the Ministry is adopting are those that will hardly benefit majority of women suffering at grassroot levels.
This was recently manifested in the revisions that were made to the maternity clauses in the Standard Labour Laws in June. The Ministry had announced that it will expand public childcare so as to decrease the burden on working women. With support from major women NGOs3, the Ministry proposed revisions to maternity-related clauses in the Standard Labour Laws, and the clauses were changed for the first time since 1953. There were basically two major improvements - maternity leave was increased from the present 60 days to 90 days, and prohibition on employment of women in hazardous workplaces was expanded. This may seem like a big step, but the fact of the matter is, these laws came in exchange for further flexibility of women's labour. In exchange for increase of maternal leave, the Ministry also agreed to abolish the clauses restricting overtime work and night work, paid familycare leave and menstruation leave.
In a situation where 70% (or perhaps even higher and ever increasing) of women workers are irregular workers, how many women workers will actually benefit from the revision? The majority of working class women are outside legal boundaries. The Ministry and women NGOs argue that they will fight for the application of the laws to irregular workers, but without questioning the neo-liberal characteristics behind the legislation, there is really no chance that this will actually take place. Many women activists had fought hard for these laws for the last decade and they are congratulating themselves in finally achieving their objective, but in the meantime, a vast majority of women workers have fallen into the ditches of irregular work and the demands of the majority have been neglected to benefit a few. Capitalists have learnt to 'sacrifice' a few laws for the sake of obtaining further flexibility. Despite the argument that these revisions will open new opportunities for women, without questioning the essence of Kim's government and its support for neo-liberalism, the revisions that were recently made will only expedite the flexible usage of women workers and thus further deteriorate the working conditions of irregular women workers. The Ministry and the NGOs do not realize that the laws, along with others that were made during the recent years4 , are all in compliance with neo-liberalism.
It has only been one year since the Ministry of Gender Equality took off, but those benefiting from it are middle-class, elite women, and only the minority of women workers who are lucky enough to be in a regular job. The presidential elections take place next year. Despite that the Ministry is conforming to neo-liberal policies and trying to confuse the workers about the essence of its policies, it does have some significance amidst the severely patriarchal political scene of Korea - which may well be undermined by any of the major right-wing political parties that take office - including the ruling New Millenium Democratic Party of Kim Dae-Jung, which still receive a lot of support from NGOs. This will merely lead to more lack of hope for state-led labour policies.
FIGHTING AND ORGANISING
Neo-liberalism was not something that hit Korea suddenly in 1997, but is a historical development of capitalism that has gradually taken form during the last few decades. It had been women workers who had felt the effects of globalisation first and thus were the first ones to resist. It was the women workers of Korea, who fought militantly during the 70s and early 80s for a democratic union and worker's rights. Women workers formed the foundation for the modern labour movement, although this fact often tends to be forgotten. During the late 80's, the Korean economy reconstructed itself into focusing on export-oriented heavy industries, whose workers were predominantly men, and women workers were left behind.
The onslaught of neo-liberal globalisation and the impoverishment that came with it was also felt first by women workers. Just after the economic crisis, the women worker's movement moved a big step forward when independent women's trade unions began to beformed5 . The unions came out of the need to address the specific issues of women workers that could not be properly dealt with in a general union -organising irregular workers, the unemployed, domestic workers and those women who worked in small companies where there are no unions. The percentage of women participating in unions still remain at a meagre 5%, due to the fact that general unions do not accommodate workers who are not regular workers. It was only in 1997, when the IMF enforced austerity measures and structural adjustment programs also affected male workers, that the people's movement in Korea fully realised the destructive nature of neo-liberalism. From then on, flexibility of labour has become the main target of struggle for the working class. Spotlight was finally thrown on the fact that neo-liberalism attack women workers foremost, but unfortunately the longtime demands and struggles of women workers are being put aside, as the struggles against 'irregular labour' is again being organised in a male-oriented fashion.
The establishments of these unions are very significant in the history of the Korean labour movement and also in the women's movement. Just as the strategies of capitalists change, the organisation of the working class also much change to resist effectively. The essence of neo-liberalism and its gender-bias cannot be resisted through the traditional method of organization concentrating on male, regular workers from big enterprises.
However, these newly formed women's unions still have further developments to make and many obstacles to overcome, in their struggles against national and international capital. The unions must question the role of neo-liberal globalisation and its strategy of incorporating flexibility measures into the labour market, for a full understanding of the situation of women workers and organizing of more radical struggles that go into the fundamental core. And at the same time, the worker's movement of Korea must go through structural changes to accommodate the ever increasing irregular workers, and must also make more effort into overcoming the patriarchal values that are still prevalent inside people's movement. Many women activists and unionists have started to address the issues of gender discrimination and sexual violence inside the people's movement, which up until now had been covered up. Over the years, many fervent and militant women activists have had to leave the movement because of discrimination and violence. It was always considered women's fault, or victimized women were forced to 'forgive' for the 'greater cause'. Many women activists, workers and unionists are uniting themselves and are calling upon the movement to tackle the problem of hierarchy, discrimination and violence.
TOWARDS ORGANIZING GLOBAL RESISTANCE OF WOMEN
As we have seen, neo-liberal globalisation affects all areas of society, to attain flexibility of the labour market solely for the interests of transnational capital. In the case of Korea, this process of enforcing structural adjustment and flexibility has devastated the lives of the people, especially women. Capitalist industrialisation has brought about the rise of the women's proletariat and neo-liberal globalisation has further feminised the proletariat while at the same time impoverishing the proletariat into the verge of slavery.
This is not a matter of women merely being affected 'more' - we must look at the mechanisms of neo-liberalism that operate in a gender-biased way. Indeed, neo-liberal globalisation itself feed upon gender discrimination and effectively use traditional patriarchal values to exploit women further. Patriarchal ideologies act to crush any attempts of women to politicize and form resistance.
However, the essence of neo-liberalism is slowly being manifested and women have begun to fight back. Feminisation of labour and feminisation of poverty signify increased exploitation of women, but precisely because of that, provide the possibility for organization and resistance, nationally and internationally. Women must now go forth as subjects in uniting the people in our fight against neo-liberal globalisation. Instead of being incorporated into a ready-made movement of men or middle-class elite women, instead of taking the problems of discrimination for granted, women workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, migrants and other grassroot peoples of the Third World must form a broad solidarity. We must analyse globalisation from women's perspective, plan strategies that conform with the particular needs of women, propose alternatives that include women as equal subjects, keep to the principle of internationalism, and unite with other oppressed groups in the mass resistance in the fight against neo-liberalism - and go beyond in creating a world based on equality.
* Joo-Yeon Jeong & Seung-Min Choi are with the Policy & Information Center for International Solidarity (PICIS), Korea. This paper was presented at the International South Group Network (ISGN) Asian Workshop on Women and Globalisation, 22-24 November, Manila.