Recession ‘hits Third World women’

Women workers in Third World countries are being hit hardest by the global recession, according to research released by Oxfam ahead of the G20 summit in London on Thursday 2 April.

Female employees tend to be the first laid off as bosses make job cuts, the charity says, and because of their lower status in certain societies are sometimes forced by employers to sign redundancy agreements to avoid severance pay.

Research in 10 countries in Asia and South America showed women often work in the most insecure jobs and many are migrants from rural families depending on their wage.

In Asia sex traffickers were found to be approaching women who had lost their jobs asking if they wanted to go to work in the West.

Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking said: “Women in poor countries have been taking risks and working impossibly hard to provide for their families. They were already struggling to make ends meet. Now their lives, and those of their children, have become even harder. It’s not fair that women in poverty are paying the price for the rich world’s mistakes.”

She added: “It is hard enough for women in the UK who are losing their jobs but at least get some help from the government and from friends and family. In poor countries, there is often no unemployment benefit, and people are more likely to have nothing to fall back on. The G20 must help.”

The charity says the denial of basic working rights is increasing.

It quoted Xiao Hong from an unnamed factory in China as saying: “Now one person has to do three people’s work for the same wages and the employer is piling on the pressure – any small mistake is an excuse for dismissal. In this way it does not have to pay compensation and severance.”

Another example given was Ruth Cerna from El Salvador, who was one of 1,700 workers laid off in November when a factory closed.

She said: “Many women were pregnant, many are ill and are left with nothing. It’s been three months since the factory closed and we haven’t been paid anything.”


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