Globalization: The flow of things material and immaterial (raw materials, people, goods, services, ideas, technology, culture, environmental impacts) across national, cultural and ecological boundaries, and the forces (military, economic, political, religious) that determine the direction of and terms for this flow.
Some people and institutions benefit enormously from this process - especially those who were already in positions of privilege like corporations and stock holders and corrupt government officials - as well as Rich World consumers who can get things much more cheaply...when made by young women in sweatshops.
People and jobs are on the move too - millions of people leaving their homelands to look for work abroad, as well as jobs that move to the Poor World where labor is cheap and environmental rules nonexistent. So people don't have to leave their own country to be affected by globalization, as in the case of the two young women below.
So, depending on who you are, where you live, and what kind of political and economic power you have, globalization can be a good thing or a bad thing.
We met these two young women on our 2019 Learning Tour to Myanmar. Nang Paung Hi Kar (at left) migrated from her home in the delta of Myanmar at 16 years of age to work in the garment sector, earning $1 a day in the beginning.
Shwe Zin, on the right, first worked as a household servant, where she was "treated like a slave" and then in a clothing factory where the pay is $73 per month for 10 hour days.
[Read the story of Fatima, coffee worker in El Salvador]
If we aren't comfortable with the exploitation and greed that seem to accompany globalization, what can we do?
We all have to raise our own awareness of the real cost - in human and environmental terms - of the things we buy.
Look for ways to give our neighbors better options. Through microloan programs and skills training carried out by NCP and others, women can be successful within their own economies, so they can avoid both the sweatshops and the need to cater to Rich World Fair Trade markets.
These same initiatives help them send their daughters to school and avoid exploitative work in urban areas ("Our daughters no longer have to migrate to the big cities!" women in the delta of Myanmar told us). NCP's Give a Girl Chance scholarships in Nepal help keep girls in school and out of reach of the traffickers.
We can look for ways to help people deal with global realities that are out of their control, like climate change. NCP provides human and financial resources to assist rural communities in Malawi and Myanmar in adapt to climate change. And we challenge people and communities in our own society to reduce emissions through conservation and clean energy.
We can all look for ways to support native communities in the Americas, who have been dealing with the impacts of globalization for over 500 years. These days they are on the front lines in the struggle against the extractive industries prowling the globe for oil, gas, minerals, timber and anything else they can turn into a quick profit. Check out NCP's Native Communities page.
And we have to DO something to challenge trade agreements that only care about profits and products, not people and planet - and future.
Our Learning Tours take people to experience the impacts of globalization on our poorer and more vulnerable neighbors - come along!
Show the way to a more just world by reducing consumption and sharing resources with our neighbors and by challenging systems that ensure disparity. (See Consuming Appetites for disparity data.)
Check out our Free, Fair, Faux, Phun page for our take on Free Trade vs Fair Trade vs Phundamental change in the way the world does business.