A governance of marketability over
Fundamentalisms impact on women’s lives and bodies in multiple ways. From direct control over women’s bodies, to the use of women as national symbols. Fundamentalists have a chameleon-like nature, being able to successfully manipulate the language of human rights and democracy in their attempts to find support among social movements though their real positions are antithetical to all those activists profess.
At its very core, the main objective or character of fundamentalist movements is the way it uses religion, ethnicity or culture to gain and mobilize political power.
The challenge today, however, is to expose the way that it functions, look at the way they spread internationally, and the way one type of fundamentalism works together with other fundamentalisms.
The dogma of “free market”, while not a religious fundamentalism, is nonetheless the imposition of the idea that there is no other alternative. Market fundamentalism is the dominance of capital and neoliberal ideology. It functions, depends on and exacerbates racist, patriarchal and heterosexist rule in order to mobilise and gain political and economic power.
This is a Women in Action (WIA) bumper issue, especially put together for the Hong Kong WTO 6th Ministerial Meeting. This issue brings together the voices of women and activists from the developing South and reveals the ways in which market interests have prevailed above all other interests.
Marina Durano, in her article Trade in Media Services, leads the Features segment. She discusses how international trade agreements are encroaching into domestic regulations by setting an implicit standard of acceptability. Durano shows how market access is gaining greater prominence in the debates rather than the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity. We also feature the International Gender & Trade Network (IGTN) advocacy document with their urgent call for a review of the political framework and the need to produce an alternative agenda for international trade where social reproduction is the centre.
Clearly, under the WTO trading regime, the women’s agenda is being used once again as an instrument for furthering the neoliberal goals of rapid trade liberalisation. Sarah Dotson makes this point by focusing on Thailand working class women. Dotson asserts that simply allowing women access to jobs and rising wages does not automatically lead to women’s empowerment. Nor does it justify the wage and occupational segregation that has characterised growth in East and South Asia.
The Community and Independent Media segment—the Isis prime advocacy—dedicated to critiquing globalised media and advocating for alternative media and ICTs. Anita Gurumurthy and Saskia Sassen forward their positions on new ICTs and the issue of Internet governance.
In the One-on-One section, Mariama Williams speaks with Isis International-Manila and outlines what transnational, anti-capitalist feminist politics in the arena of Gender and Trade should look like. Talking Points starts with Donna Doane’s discussion of the very real condition informal women workers confront in this era we call globalisation. Reihana Mohideen ends the segment on a more positive note, drawing on experiences of Venezuelan women, and how these women are in the forefront of challenging the economic power of globalisation. Finally, We’ve Got Male! Isis International-Manila ventures into new grounds with this segment.
This compilation of fearless feminist views is our modest contribution to building that alternative trade regime.