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An Analysis of the WTO-AOA Review from the Perspective of Rural Women in Asia

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A. Glipo
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How does the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) affect the livelihoods of rural women in Asia? This paper, prepared on the occasion of the WTO-AOA review in 2003, analyzes the impact of the new trading rules imposed by the WTO on Asian peasants. It illustrates the inherent imbalances in the WTO-AOA's trade liberalisation policies which, among other things, flood local markets with highly subsidized agricultural imports from developed countries to the detriment of domestic agriculture. These trade rules have devastated local agriculture, caused widespread unemployment, and worsened rural poverty, particularly for women. Displaced from farming, while still responsible for their families' survival, unskilled rural women are forced to accept temporary low paying jobs in the informal sector or to migrate to cities and foreign countries to perform menial jobs. The paper issues a proposal for action to reverse the negative impact of trade liberalisation policies. This includes a call on women's groups to hold national governments accountable to the concessions they made under the AOA, and to pressure their governments to reverse the policies which harm small farmers and rural women.

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