As a young woman my first exposure to activism came with the National Organization of Women and NAACP. The NOW was the power behind all of the Equal Protection laws for women as NAACP was for civil rights.
THESE ARE THE VOICES MISSING TODAY AND WHY THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA HAVE NO IDEA WHAT NEO-LIBERALISM IS AND WHERE IT IS GOING.
Nations around the world are protesting and sending corporate pols packing because organizations of labor and justice are still strong with leaders actually working for the people these organizations serve. In the US----both NOW and NAACP are led by people working to enrich a few by supporting the very corporate pols dismantling and ignoring Equal Protection and Rule of Law. This will end badly for everyone but women and people of color the most. Today I want to look at NOW and its strong commitment to getting women neo-liberal candidates into office.
IT IS A DISGRACE AND THIS CAPTURE AT THE TOP OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS HAPPENED BECAUSE CINDY WALSH ET AL STEPPED AWAY FROM THESE GROUPS AND ALLOWED THEM TO BE TAKEN BY GLOBAL CORPORATE SUPPORTERS.
If you look at the issue agenda for the NOW it is now centered squarely on women's reproductive rights and wage equality. These are the talking points for neo-liberals. Women have been reduced to fighting for reproductive rights as they lose equal protection and violence against women grows-----the majority of women are driven into the deepest of poverty----and social safety nets and programs are being dismantled. THESE LEADERS KNOW BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON AND NEO-LIBERALS HAVE THIS DISMANTLEMENT AS A GOAL. So, women in America today are reduced to fighting for reproductive rights almost exclusively. Look at NARAL and Planned Parenthood and you see the same issues AND NONE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH NEO-LIBERALISM PROTECTS FAMILIES---WOMEN AND CHILDREN. Sure we want to protect reproductive rights but not as we lose all our rights as citizens.
I look on the NOW webpage for Trans Pacific Trade Pact and how global markets are creating wealth inequity and fraud and corruption targeting women and seniors and there is nothing. They are building an international organization under the umbrella of neo-liberalism and global economies.
THIS IS WHY AMERICANS DO NOT KNOW ABOUT WHAT NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES HAVE AS GOALS.
Look at the candidates they support for Supreme Court for goodness sake-----Napolitano is the face of surveillance and spying----she is the face of Wall Street protection----voted continually with Clinton for all neo-liberal policies giving us the Wall Street and global corporate rule we have today. It is all Harvard and Yale with these NOW leaders. This is how you know the organization is captured. You can bet NOW will be pushing Hillary Clinton as hard as they can and use her as a face for women's issues.
Why does the statistic below exist across the nation? Because Bill Clinton and neo-liberals handed the Democratic Party to global corporations and started the dismantlement of all public policy that protected the American public----including civil rights and liberties and social safety nets.
Single mothers and children hit hardest by poverty in Cincinnati
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that one in every three Cincinnatians lives below the federal poverty line. The city is ranked second in the nation for child poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Of those households, most are headed by single mothers.
So what can be done to break the cycle of poverty?
Harvard and Yale are Wall Street and global markets....they wrote Trans Pacific Trade Pact and the handing of all public policy in the US to global corporate tribunals. They are the face of the decline of women's and children's rights and growing poverty around the world. WHY WOULD A US WOMEN'S RIGHTS ORGANIZATION SUGGEST NEO-LIBERALS FOR THE SUPREME COURT? Because they are led by people at the top working for global corporations.
Remember the last editor of the Harvard Law Review? Obama. Harvard and Yale do not even see the US as having a Constitution that is not Trans Pacific Trade Pact for goodness sake. Napolitano is a disgrace!
These neo-liberal Supreme Court picks by NOW show their mission. All candidates in elections at all levels backed by NOW are neo-liberals.
NOW Spotlight on Supreme Court Candidates: Martha Minow Posted May 4th, 2010
It is easy to see why Martha Minow is on the short list of potential Supreme Court nominess to fill Justice Stevens’ vacated seat. Minow obtained degrees from Harvard University and Yale Law School, where she was an editor of Yale Law Review.
NOW Spotlight on Supreme Court candidates: Janet Napolitano Posted April 26th, 2010
With Justice Stevens retiring after many years of service to women’s issues, Janet Napolitano is one of the people making Obama’s short list to replace him. Napolitano’s long history of public service and support for women led to her most recent appointment, United States Secretary of Homeland Security.
If you look at who is on the Board of Directors of NOW today you will see Maryland's Donna Edwards. She is Maryland AFL-CIO and union members fought hard to get her elected. Today, Maryland union members she Donna as working against labor because Donna joined the neo-liberals after election. There certainly are many faces of color on this NOW Board. They are now concerned for all women of the world. OH REALLY?????? I do not hear NOW saying anything about the losses of civil rights/liberties and loss of Rule of Law killing people of color and women. 'TALKING POINTS' DO NOT MAKE AN ACTIVIST ORGANIZATION!
National Organization of Women is simply a neo-liberal capture and we need to take these organizations back to the people. National organizations like NOW, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, AFL-CIO are the ones that should be leading against this neo-liberal/neo-con attack on the US but they are the cover-up crew!
National Organization for Women - NOW
By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Expert
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Purpose of the National Organization for Women:
"to take action" to achieve the equality of women
Events Leading Up to the Creation of NOW:
- 1961-1963: President's Commission on the Status of Women
- 1963: Publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
- Civil Rights Act of 1964: outlawed sex discrimination, yet many women felt that there was little or no enforcement
- 1966, June: Washington, DC, meeting of state commissions on the status of women. Betty Friedan and others present were unsatisfied with the lack of action plans coming out of this meeting, and 28 met in Friedan's hotel room, leading to the creation of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
In several informal meetings followed by a national conference, a number of activists came together to form the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, seeing the need for a civil rights organization specifically focused on women's rights. Betty Friedan was elected the first president of NOW and served in that office for three years.
NOW Statement of Purpose 1966: Key Points:
- women's rights as "truly equal partnership with men," "fully equal partnership of the sexes"
- focused on activism: "confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right as individual Americans, as human beings"
- women's rights seen in the context of "the world-wide revolution of human rights"; equality of women as an opportunity to "develop their fullest human potentials"
- purpose to put women in the "mainstream of American political, economic and social life"
- NOW's commitment "equality, freedom, and dignity for women" specifically defined as not being about "special privilege" for women or "enmity towards men"
- employment -- the most attention in the document is to issues around employment and economics
- family including marriage and divorce laws, home responsibilities by gender role
- political participation: in parties, decision-making, candidates (NOW was to be independent of any particular political party)
- images of women in the media, in culture, in laws, in social practices
- briefly addressed issue of "double discrimination" of African American women, linked women's rights to broader issues of social justice including racial justice
- opposition to "protectiveness" in work, school, church, etc.
Some key issues in which NOW has been active:
1967-1970s At the first NOW convention after the founding conference, 1967, members chose to focus on the Equal Rights Amendment, repeal of abortion laws, and public funding of child care. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) remained a major focus until the final deadline for ratification passed in 1982. Marches, beginning in 1977, tried to mobilize support; NOW also organized boycotts by organizations and individuals of events in states which had not ratified the ERA; NOW lobbied for a 7-year extension in 1979 but the House and Senate only approved half of that time.
NOW also focused on legal enforcement of provisions of the Civil Rights Act that applied to women, helped conceive and pass legislation inluding the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978), worked for repeal of abortion laws and, after Roe v. Wade, against laws that would restrict abortion's availability or a pregnant woman's role in choosing abortion.
1980s In the 1980s, NOW endorsed presidential candidate Walter Mondale who nominated the first woman candidate for VP of a major party, Geraldine Ferraro. NOW added activism against policies of President Ronald Reagan, and began to be more active on issues of lesbian rights. NOW also filed a federal civil suit against groups attacking abortion clinics and their leaders, resulting in a 1994 Supreme Court decision in NOW v. Scheidler.
1990s In the 1990s, NOW remained active on issues including economic and reproductive rights, and also became more visibly active on issues of domestic violence. NOW also created a Women of Color and Allies Summit, and took aim at the "father's rights" movement as part of NOW's activism on issues of family law.
2000+ Since 2000, NOW has worked to oppose the Bush administration's strategies on issues of women's economic rights, reproductive rights, and marriage equality. In 2006, the Supreme Court removed the NOW v. Scheidler protections that kept abortion clinic protestors from interfering with patient's access to the clinics. NOW also took on issues of Mothers and Caregivers Economic Rights and the interface between disability issues and women's rights, and between immigration and women's rights.
We all know it is women and children that are suffering with this breakdown of first world society in the US and the neo-liberal goal of third world society complete with the developing world labor abuses and environmental devastation has women of the world in worse conditions in modern history. NOW leaders are openly saying by supporting neo-liberals in every election-----
BRING ALL THAT POVERTY AND LABOR ABUSE TO THE US!
It is the policies of the Clinton Administration that opened the window to global corporate rule and the dismantling of the US Constitutional rights of citizens. It's all about what maximizes corporate profits =====George Bush simply took off when Clinton deregulated and broke Glass Steagall so Bush didn't do this------Clinton set the ball on the tee for Bush to whack! So this is a neo-liberal/neo-con tag team and the National Organization for Women leaders are working for the bad guys!
Remember, these poverty figures are taken from Federal statistics that use 1960 models -----not current Cost of Living models. Poverty today in the US is now above 70% and growing with the super-majority of these people women and children as is true in third world nations.
U.S. Women Hit Hardest by Poverty
Leslie Bennett, US News
When the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest poverty statistics this week, the news was predictably bleak—or at least the news that people were given. But there was a little something the major media omitted from their coverage.
That minor detail? Half the population.
The larger half.
And when it comes to the latest economic data on women, the news is even worse than most people seem to realize. But you couldn’t learn that by reading The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, neither of which even mentioned women in their front-page stories about the rise in the poverty rate, which has soared to its highest level since 1993.
When it comes to discovering what that means for the majority of the American population, one had to look elsewhere. For the news the big guys didn’t see fit to print, we can thank the National Women’s Law Center, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that focuses on women’s economic security and legal rights.
When the NWLC crunched the latest numbers from the Census Bureau, the results showed that record numbers of women are living in poverty. And in news that should surprise no one, the findings reveal that millions of those women do not have health insurance.
The poverty rate among women rose to 14.5 percent last year, up from 13.9 percent in 2009—the highest rate in 17 years. The “extreme poverty rate” among women was the highest ever recorded, climbing to 6.3 percent in 2010 from 5.9 percent in 2009.
“Extreme poverty” means that your income is below half of the federal poverty line—and by 2010, more than 7.5 million women had fallen into that dire category.
What all those statistics add up to is that more than 17 million women were living in poverty last year, compared with 12.6 million men. As usual, things were worse for older women; twice as many women over 65 were living in poverty, compared with men.
And those numbers just represented the population-wide average. For Hispanic and black women, the poverty rate increased even faster and rose higher—to 25 percent for Hispanic women and to 25.6 percent for black women.
As usual, single mothers are having the hardest time of all. More than 40 percent of women who head families are now living in poverty. With more than half of poor children living in female-headed families in 2010, the child poverty rate jumped to 22 percent.
The trends are equally alarming when it comes to health insurance. Nearly one in five women is now living without health insurance. The percentage of women aged 18 to 64 who don’t have health insurance increased from 19.2 percent in 2009 to 19.7 percent in 2010—the highest rate recorded in more than a decade.
“More than 19 million women younger than 65 were without health care coverage in 2010,” the NWLC reported.
Private insurance isn’t coming to the rescue. The percentage of women covered by employer-sponsored health insurance declined to 60.6 percent in 2010, down from 61.7 percent in 2009—a decrease that affected more than 600,000 women.
Government assistance is also going down; the percentage of women covered by Medicaid declined to 11.5 percent from 11.7 percent the previous year.
The news on women’s earnings was just as dismal. “Women working full-time year-round continued to be paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts,” reported the NWLC.
“The wage gap, which has been stuck at 77 cents for the last three years, has been virtually stagnant over the last decade and means an average of more than $10,000 in lost wages for women each year,” said Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC’s vice president of education and employment. “Nearly 40 percent of mothers are primary breadwinners today. In these difficult times, no family can afford women’s salaries to be discounted.”
So why are the mainstream media ignoring them?
And what about everyone else, from the politicians to the pundits? If government leaders are going to deal with the enormous amount of deprivation and suffering out there, they have to start focusing on women and children.
Because as usual, they’re suffering more than anyone else.
And as usual, most of the powers that be aren’t paying attention.
Why do you think the world's women's organizations are educating and fighting neo-liberalism as US women's and justice organizations promote these neo-liberal politicians? These world citizens have been subjected to it directly. If you do not think US neo-liberals intend to bring all of these policies to the US and look at American citizens as they do these workers abroad------YOU ARE NOT LISTENING!!!!! Who was President in the early 1990s? Bill and Hillary Clinton were the two-for-one team. The Clintons and Bushs are the face of ravishing third world societies. Did US corporations raise developing world people?
NO, ALL THESE COUNTRIES HAVE THE SAME WEALTH INEQUITY AT THE TOP WITH WIDE-SPREAD FRAUD AND CORRUPTION TAKING THE WEALTH OF THE REST OF THE CITIZENS. SOUND FAMILIAR?????
As the article below states----neo-liberalism used private non-profits to capture activist power while promoting the goal of working for activism. Remember, organizations like NOW in the 1960s and 70s really did work for and get rights for women----it was the 1990s that saw Clinton moving neo-liberals into the lead of these organization to undermine them. MLK's Dream walked out the door with NAACP capture in the same way-----again, by Clinton.
WE DO NOT WANT TO VOTE REPUBLICAN TO ESCAPE THIS----THESE ARE REPUBLICAN POLICIES. WE WANT TO GET RID OF THE LESS THAN 20% OF CORPORATE POLS FROM THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!
Turning to the village to fight neoliberalism: Inter-sectoral organizing in the All India Democratic Women’s Association
Neoliberal economics, policy and ideology took India by storm in the early 1990s. Fueled by the balance of payments crisis in 1991, the Indian government renegotiated its outstanding loans with the IMF and agreed to the structural adjustments that have become so familiar across the globe. The All India Democratic Women’s Association is a mass-based women’s organization, linked to the Communist Party of India Marxist that immediately recognized the changing landscape for women’s organizing across the country. Neo-liberal social conditions have two direct effects: (1) the tendency toward unemployment; (2) the tendency by the non-profit sector to promote network or small-sector issue-based organizing (including micro-credit groups). From the standpoint of the rural and working-class women, mutual-aid and informal solidarity has become the basis for the survival of their communities. AIDWA recognized the collapse of work, the depleted imagination of the non-profit sector and the possibility of working to strengthen this mutual-aid and informal solidarity while building a much more contentious and difficult political organization. In the turmoil of the consolidation of neoliberalism, between 1991 and 2006, AIDWA grew five-fold to 10 million members. Under the influence of neo-liberal thought, ideas such as “women’s rights” have been mobilized to undermine the very heritage of the idea of women’s rights. In other words, the government and parts of the non-profit sector have used “women’s rights” as a slogan for a kind of development agenda to make women “market-friendly”; the emancipatory agenda of the women’s movement had been set aside by this policy. AIDWA had to tackle this “soft power” of neo-liberalism with its mass base. Over the course of the 1990s, AIDWA pivoted away from its primary reliance on organizing cross-class coalitions of women on common issues, such as their long-standing campaigns to fight intra-familial and state-based violence against women. The organization developed an “inter-sectoral” praxis that successfully organized people within and outside of their workplaces, inside their communities and beyond the norms of those community affiliations. This paper describes the contours of inter-sectoral praxis as a means to organize agriculturally-based rural and working poor urban women against neoliberalism.
Reagan/Clinton neo-liberalism literally enslaved the world's workers to maximize US global corporate profit. Here in America we are told it was good to give these third world people a way to earn money to send home. Well, as you see below----the world did not think so. Clinton has been the worst colonialist fighting for the right of US corporations to be free to use labor and disuse the environment in any way possible. That is what TPP is all about. Now, they are going to bring US corporations back to the US and allow them to operate as they did overseas and that is what this dismantling is all about. Think women and children in poverty is growing now----wait until neo-liberals and neo-cons move these TPP laws forward.
STOP ALLOWING GLOBAL CORPORATE LEADERS TO HEAD OUR LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS! WE NEED EVERYONE ENGAGED IN POLITICS AT ALL LEVELS----BOTH AS POLITICIANS AND AS LEADERS OF THESE LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS.
Below you will read what mirrors the conditions in the US today. These global pols are moving the US to the same policy conditions as Koreans have faced for decades and have been fighting to shed. Neo-liberals and neo-cons are bringing these conditions home to the US. Why would National Organization of Women not be shouting this? Because----to use the terms of socialists---the wealthy elite control these organizations. Please do not allow the propaganda against socialism turn you off to what is happening. It doesn't matter what you call it----it is the very few taking all the world's money and pushing everyone else into poverty taking control of all organizations and media. You see how over and over the dates of late 1980s and 1990s come into play----the Reagan/Clinton years. The 1997 economic crash was used to 'restructure' the governments of developing worlds just as the crash of 2014 is being used to 'restructure' the US government.
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.
The structural adjustments after the economic crash of 1997-----hmmmmmm sounds like what is happening today in Europe and US with the crash of 2008! OF COURSE IT'S THE SAME!
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.