Proposal preview

Women’s economic position in a globalising world

There is a substantial body of research into the link between the position of women and economic development. It has shown that there is a reciprocal relationship between the two: economic development can empower women; and at the same time empowerment of women is important for economic development (Duflo 2012).

Since the 1970s, significant progress has been made in achieving gender equality. Economic development has received substantial attention in explaining this progress ,however the link is mediated by institutions and culture. For example, the fact that regions such as the Middle East remain more gender inegalitarian can, to an extent, be explained by norms and values (Dilli, Rijpma and Carmichael 2015).

While economic development and institutions have received a great deal of attention as contributing factors, much less is known about the relationship between the globalisation process and the position of women. This gap in our knowledge is significant, especially historically. The roots of globalisation can be argued to go back as far as the 16th century. This gives us a long time frame in which to explore how processes of globalisation altered the position of women within and across societies.

The globalisation process has coincided with changes in the position of women, both positive and negative. To what extent globalisation drives these changes is not clear, however globalisation changes economies and societies in ways that can be expected to greatly affect women. For one, globalisation causes specific patterns of development and specialisation. For instance the rise of export industries such as textiles in some countries and desindustrialisation and cash crop agriculture in others (Williamson 2011) could lead to new employment opportunities for women. In a further development related to globalisation the establishment of bodies such as the UN has gone hand in hand with the rise of an international development community, and the ratification of various conventions aimed at improving women’s legal standing.

Migration flows were an important aspect of globalisation, especially in the nineteenth century. Because there were more male than female migrants, this had implications for labour markets in both origin and recipient countries. Marriage markets were also affected, with implications for fertility. Such changes even influenced the values surrounding the position of women in society, which can persist to the present day (Grosjean and Khattar 2015).

More generally, together with economic integration, globalisation is a process of cultural and institutional exchange. Not only does this have a direct influence on the position of women, it can also be a channel for the persistence of gender inequality.

This session will bring together researchers working on globalisation and the economic position of women in all periods and regions. Papers will cover the role of women in globalisation, the effect of globalisation on the position of women, as well as the long-term consequences of these changes.


  • Sarah G Carmichael, Universiteit Utrecht,,
  • Auke Rijpma, International Institute of Social History,,
  • Selin Dilli, Universiteit Utrecht,,

Session members

  • Vellore Arthi, Oxford University,
  • Jeanne Cilliers, Stellenbosch University,
  • Silvana Maubrigades, University of the Republic, Uruguay,
  • Maria Camou, University of the Republic, Uruguay,
  • Sun Go, Chung Ang University, Seoul,
  • Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, Wageningen University, Nederveen Meerkerk, Elise van ‎[
  • Gerarda K Westerhuis, Universiteit Utrecht,
  • Felix Meier zu Selhausen, University of Sussex,

Proposed discussant(s)

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