Author: Stephanie Barrientos
Globalisation is transforming the lives of women workers. Civil society campaigns over workers' rights in global production have begun to open up global spaces for women's organisations. Examples can now be found where women's concerns have been given some voice in mainstream commercial corridors of power. This paper examines this process. It analyses the changing dynamics of global production networks as gendered commercial spaces, in which women's profile as workers and consumers is rising. The project compares two case studies where small women's NGOs have directly engaged (through campaigns and dialogue) with large corporate giants. One is a South African women's organization campaigning for the rights of women fruit workers in Tesco's supply chain. The other involves a UK women's organization undertaking an analysis of Gap Inc's value chain to help improve the effects of commercial decisions on women workers. The study is both analytical and empirical. It explores how far conceptual approaches to corporate social accountability and women's empowerment help the analysis of women's position in a commercial context. The goal of the research is to better understand the dynamics and processes through which corporate/civil society engagement can help to address the rights and well being of women workers in a global economy. It considers the wider implications for the empowerment of women in global space.