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-How Globalisation and New Technology Affect Women Workers In Asia-
continued from pg. 7

consequence of globalisation. "In industrial restructuring, women workers are the first in line when retrenchments are made. Out of economic necessity they are often relegated to become self-employed workers collecting waste material in the city. Decentralisation and subcontracting of the production process also had adverse effects on women’s employment.” Women are relegated to jobs that are considered economically marginal, where they are paid a low wage or a piece rate determined by the price of the product. Women have no influence over the price which is under pressure from cheaper imports, such as forest gum, or goods made more cheaply by mechanised processes. "In this scenario, it is important to look at the impact of new technologies in a broader framework of new economic policies and the environment. It is also imperative to think about creative alternatives as regards employment creation and organising the women workers in the informal sector.
"Moving towards a more holistic approach of Trade Union Organising, SEWA has organised co-operatives to provide credit and banking facilities, better health and child care, housing and legal aid and also the member owned media unit.”

SEWA has scores of programmes for organising self-employed women into sustainable co-operative units. In this it is as con-

cerned with the process of organising as much as the final outcome. Self-realisation is a very important aspect. To aid the process of organising, SEWA uses video because : "understanding the strength and power of collective action comes slowly to the grassroots women who participate in the training of SEWA. For many, it is a completely new idea. Videos which record the demonstrations of the women workers, such as poor women marching in the street of Ahmedabed chanting their demands, would raise the spirit, inspire confidence and solidarity and illustrate the power of collective action. ... Video activities have also proved very helpful in supporting other organising work, especially on legal actions. ... In these cases, videos are used to prepare the women workers for court hearings. ... The tapes give members of SEWA an opportunity to see and understand issues pertaining to their own and other women workers. For example, the issues of piece rate workers are similar everywhere and in different trades. Tapes produced by SEWA covey this effectively."

SEWA videos are also used to show women in leadership roles, and as an aid to technical training, including childcare. The trainers who use the video tapes in discussion groups are the same women who made them. This keeps them in touch with the whole process and prevents the technology from dominating the process - the video must work for the group. The videos are more effective because they are produced by, for and from the work-

ers themselves. The SEWA experience shows that poor illiterate women can learn to use a highly sophisticated medium for themselves and for a large number of women.

The videos have been effectively used to:

(I) mobilise women to organise
(ii) educate these women into various aspects of their social and economic life
(iii) influence the legal system and the judiciary
(iv) influence policy makers right up to the ILO where in 1995 and 1996 a major decision on a convention for “home work” would be taken. The video produced by VIDEO-SEWA and other Asian and European organisations generated awareness and understanding amongst the delegates at the ILO regarding the problems and issues concerning Home Workers.

This demonstrates that where technology is used collectively and for the betterment of people's lives it is an "appropriate technology".

What can NGOs do, locally, regionally and globally?

NGOs that work with women workers have a pivotal role to play in three distinct ways:

1) they can help women organise as workers: how they do this depends entirely on the women themselves, their present position,

Contents | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 24 | 25 | 26
Asian Women Workers Newsletter Vol. 16 No. 4 October 1997