In this paper*, I will explore approaches that could offer insights into the impact of globalisation and trade liberalization on Serbian women. I shall examine the effects of these changes on the well-being, earnings, and job segregation of Serbian women employed in the textile and clothing sector.
Key words: globalisation, trade liberalization, Serbian clothing industry
Neoclassical interpretations of globalisation mainly focus on the changes on the market and in the state and on their mutual relationship. In terms of trade, globalisation operates as trade liberalization, grounded in the ideology of free trade and the theory of comparative advantage. Thus, powerful international institutions such as IMF and the World Bank argue that reducing all barriers to trade in goods and services between countries will have positive economic effects on the development of countries and, therefore, will yield better living standards for the majority of their populations (World Economic Outlook, 1997). Although they promote the ideology of ‘free trade’, international trade is not free and fair at all. Increasing inequalities between the industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South, as well as between rich and poor social strata within each country, plus some events in the world economy (like the Asian economic crisis), have brought social policy issues to the forefront of macroeconomic policy debates (Espino, Staveren, 2001). Even mainstream economists have begun to question the neoclassical belief in the efficiency of market liberalization and have replaced it with new approaches that emphasize social, structural, and human aspects of development (Sachs, 1998; Stiglitz, 2003). However, globalization has interrelated political, economic and socio- cultural dimensions that operate at the local, national, regional, and global levels.
One aspect of globalisation is the changing position of women (Hutton & Giddens, 2000). The benefits and costs of globalisation and trade liberalization are differentiated between women and men, as well as among different groups of women (Pearson, 1998: 173; Joekes, 1987; Elson, 1996: 35-55; Standing, 1999: 583-602).  Trade policies are often implemented in a social context that discriminates against women (Elson, 1996) and that assumes that women will subsidize the formal economy through the care economy.  Thus, trade liberalization policies could contribute to raising women’s employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, but in theprevailing patriarchal culture in Serbia and male dominated decision-making processes, such policies could also increase gender inequalities. Controversy remains about the terms and conditions of women’s employment in export-oriented companies and about the gender share of benefits within the family. However, “…international financial institutions and trade agreements adopted between nations rarely take the gendered nature of globalisation into account” (Bell with Brambilla, 2002: 3).
Globalisation, Non-transition, and the Textile Sector in Serbia
The former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia  disintegrated through the war during 1991 – 1995. During the 1990s, the government of Serbia  was actively engaged in preventing and undermining economic development in order to preserve its power. This process, that I have elsewhere called ‘directed non-development’ (Djuric Kuzmanovic, 1997), had devastating consequences in every respect – economic, social, and political. Serbia experienced destructive economic consequences: economic chaos (Lazic, 1994:10), political conditions of war and nationalism internally, and isolation from the external world. In 1992, after the imposition of the UN sanctions against Serbia, a closed economy was created, with no reference to the mainstream world economy and with absolute control of the flow of goods and money in the hands of the very few people in power. In 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia finished off whatever economic infrastructure was still in place. After 2000, with the change of government and opening to the outside world, Serbia finally re-entered the world economy.
The concept of women’s emancipation was part of the official socialist theory. However, although the socialist Yugoslav ideology proclaimed gender equity and women’s right to employment, political participation, and education, it reproduced, at the same time, a patriarchal system of values and gender relations. The purpose of the women’s emancipation project was not the liberation of women. The concept of liberation would mean the destruction of the very patriarchal nature of society, and transformation at all levels, including sexuality, family, and household, as well as freeing women from all forms of oppression. The actual position of women in socialist Yugoslavia was much worse than was publicly represented, especially with regard to their economic position and political participation.
The socialist women’s emancipation project never went beyond the ‘women’s question’ into the transformation of gender relations. Consequently, both images of women and women’s positions at various levels of society were highly ambiguous. Women shared equal legal rights with men in the spheres of education, employment, and political participation; and they had the right to divorce and abortion. However, the socialist state granted women legal equality while maintaining traditional gender relations and their related structures, both in families and in society. The de jure equality, moreover, could not lead to de facto equality, because the gendered social structures were either precluding women from assuming the rights they had been granted, or were marginalizing and ghettoising them when they did assume their rights. Thus, women in socialist Serbia were subordinated in the public sphere of economic firms and political institutions, as well as in the private sphere of the family (Markov & Stankovic, 1991).
State-directed non-development and the increase in nationalism further contributed to gender oppression and feminisation of poverty (Opstine u Republici Srbiji, 1997: 124; UNICEF, 1997). On the one hand, deterioration occurred because of the overall worsening ofsocial and economic conditions in the country. On the other hand, assumptions about the ‘proper’ role of women (which were part and parcel of nationalist ideologies) contributed to the faster deterioration of women’s positions and to the exclusion of women from the public sphere, particularly after 1989. In Vojvodina in 1999, for example, women made up 55% of all unemployed, 56% among qualified unemployed, and 67% of unemployed with higher education. Recent research  shows that, including all types of work, women in Serbia work on average 75 hours per week, 15 hours more than the average in the West, and female life expectancy at birth is 7 years less than in Western Europe (Milosavljevic, 2001). In the mid-1990s, the average woman in Serbia spent 4.2 hours at work and more than 6 hours doing household work, caring for children, etc. (UNICEF, 1997).
Clothing is not only important as a final commodity for consumption. The apparel industry is also very important as a labour-intensive economic sector to ensure employment. As a labour-intensive economic sector employing many women, production and international trade in clothing has a strong impact on women’s health, environment, and human development (Malhotra, 2003: 167). In Serbia, as elsewhere, clothing is a so-called female industry since it employs more women than men. The Serbian textile industry is typically very labour-intensive, paying traditionally low wages per worker (Korosic, 1983: 61) and employing a growing number of the female workforce. Together with the Leather and Shoe Industry, it makes up 12.2% of the total number of businesses in the Serbian economy and 13.8% of the total number of employees. It is estimated that 80% of those are women (Statement of Branislav Atanackovic, at the meeting of the Textile Board, Serbian Chamber of Economy, Belgrade, May, 2002). 
Literature identifies three main mechanisms through which a trade policy reform may affect the distribution of income: employment, price, and public provision (Addison and Demery, 1986). However, existing sources on the gender dimension of trade liberalization focus “on income and employment rather than consumption effects. Furthermore, they examine the impact of changes in export production rather than of import displacement” because it is “analytically less difficult than examining other aspects and data are more readily available” (Fontana, Jokes, and Masika, 1998: 5). In order to demonstrate globalisation and trade impacts on gender discrimination in employment, I will focus my analysis on non-wage gender discrimination, i.e. in job segregation and promotion. I will use the case of the factory Novitet as an illustration.
Novitet produces male and female heavy clothing for both the domestic and international markets. However, the prevailing part of their production is export oriented, due to the loan contracts with Slovenian and German trade companies. These exports are female labour intensive. However, there is no disaggregated data about female and male productivity in the Serbian textile sector.
I also take into consideration women’s unpaid work in the care economy and intra-household resource allocation. Females dominate the care economy, but these females also have to work to support their households and are thus subject to the classic ‘double burden’ and time poverty. I will look at the discrimination women have been facing in the company and, for some of them, even within the household, during 1990s. However, problems with data availability and gaps in the information disaggregated by gender in Serbian statistics, as well as time constraints, will be very limiting factors of my analysis.
A starting analytical framework to study the links between trade and employment could be based on Hecksher and Ohlin’s (H-O) theory of trade.  The limitation is that the assumptions of full employment of resources and quickly adjusting markets are not too realistic. Labour market inflexibility, ideological, social, and structural factors, as well as non-price mechanisms in the Serbian economy largely prevent the response to changes in relative prices. Thus, for example, labour displaced in the declining sectors may not easily be re-employed in the expanding sectors because of inflexible employment and segmentation of the labour market. This aspect is particularly significant from the gender perspective. On the other hand, my analysis of intra-household allocation follows the heterodox alternative and some feminist cooperative, non-cooperative and bargaining models, which have highlighted the fact that resources within the household are not always pooled and have stressed the role of bargaining processes in determining women’s and men’s access to those resources (Cagatay, Elson, and Grown, 1995; Appendix 4 of World Bank, 2001; Fontana, & Wood, 2000: 1173). Due to strong patriarchal relations in the Serbian society, it is realistic to assume that, within the ordinary Serbian household, the struggle over household resources is characterized by both conflict and cooperation, where women tend to have less bargaining power than men.
Labour conditions in the Serbian economy used to be very different, and still are different, from the neo-classical concept of labour force flexibility and the concept of imperfect competition (Chhaschhi, 1999: 15). A labour market in Serbia – in the sense of a market where the price of labour is formed under the influence of supply and demand for labour – has not existed for over 50 years. Under the regime of ‘social ownership’, the socialist state proclaimed the ‘right to work’ and permanent ‘job security’ with a surplus of over 30% of employed workers as the consequence (Marsenic, 1999: 298). During the 1990s, employment adjusted to the decreasing level of economic activity through a sharp decrease in real wages, the increase of employees on leaves, more retirements, a large decrease in labour productivity in the formal sector, the increase of latent unemployment, and the expansion of the informal labour market.The Law on Work, introduced in December 2001, finally abandoned the ideal of full employment and introduced labour market flexibility. In the case of Novitet, over 200 workers, mostly highly qualified, lost or left their jobs during the 1990s phase of state directed non-development. Most of them were women, who found new jobs in the newly privatised clothing sector or in the informal private clothing sector, both working in their homes and outside their homes.
The market disorder caused by the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the introduction of economic sanctions by the UN Security Council had many adverse effects on Novitet. Production decreased 35 – 40% and co-operation with foreign firms faded away. During this period, Novitet kept international business co-operation based on loan business only with one firm from Germany. Recently, after the beginning of the democratic transition of the country, such forms of cooperation started anew with some textile firms from Slovenia. The disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia radically decreased the supply of ready-made clothes. The Yugoslav apparel market lost legal assortments from Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These loses were not replaced by new producers from the wider international market. At the same time, consumers from Serbia were stimulated (by significantly lower prices) to buy ready-made clothes, as well as many other items, on the black or informal market. 
Gender Labour Inequalities in the Serbian Economy and in Novitet
The basic characteristics of the Serbian labour market are its division into formal and informal (illegal, ‘black’) labour markets and the large wage disparities among workers with the same or similar qualifications in different economic branches of the labour market. Those branches that suffer discrimination, like the textile industry, have lower wages relative to the wages in privileged industries (Krstic and Reilly, 2000). Besides, an empirical analysis of wages in the Serbian economy shows an increasing gender wage gap: while in 1996 employed women earned 15 % less than men, this gender wage gap increased by 2.6 % in 2000 (Krstic and Reilly, 2000).
The situation in Novitet also illustrates these trends. Female workers made up 85% of the 759 workers in 1999. The number of women decreases at higher levels of the management hierarchy. Women mainly work in the production and trade divisions, mostly have low education, and are from poor worker or peasant family backgrounds. Regarding the age structure, 70% of them are between 27 and 45, with working experience between 10 and 30 years. In the production section, about 90% are women. Women can be found in great numbers only at the first level of control – as direct supervisors on production lines: they are heads of at least 4 out of 6 production lines, and in the 32 shops, (Novitet has its own shops) there are 17 male heads and 15 female. Shop assistants are by and large women. In upper management, there is only one female director of production, and she is the only woman in the company’s eleven-member Board of Directors (oral statement of the general director of Novitet, 1999; Sistematizacija radnih mesta, Novitet, 1999: 3).
Theoretical H-O predictions of full employment of resources do not take into consideration structural unemployment, segmented markets, and their gendered effects. Under the circumstances of high unemployment, women are likely to be pushed out even from temporary, seasonal, and low-paid jobs. On the other hand, women accept low paid jobs and very poor working conditions because of the poverty that struck most ordinary Serbian families during the 1990s. They must also support their families as second bread-winners. There is strong pressure on them to participate in the labour market. In terms of intra-household relations, women tend to accept gender inequalities: more often than men they accept work in the care economy and enable men to ‘build their careers’ in paid jobs.
Novitet’s workers’ average monthly wage in 2001 was about 75 euros while the average monthly salary in Vojvodina was 214 euros and in Central Serbia 174,5 euros (Sluzbeni glasnik Republike Srbije,[Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia] 2001: 3-4). The wages at Novitet have been officially the same for women and men, and thus the non-wage indicators are more indicative of gender discrimination. The mechanisms of non-wage gender discrimination are widely represented in Novitet. Due to the gender division of labour in the Serbian economy, supported by patriarchal relations in the whole society, women are faced with vertical barriers at work and are already segregated in the low-paid sectors of industry and trade. Also, they experience non-wage discrimination in job promotion. There are clearly visible vertical barriers within the company through gender discriminatory employment practices regarding education. Out of almost 800 workers, of whom only about 25 are men, there are a handful of them (only 35) with 2-year college and full university degrees (Table 1). Although women with university and college education are more numerous than men (23 women versus 12 men), 50% of men with college degrees (3 out of 6) work in positions that require university degrees, while 80% of women with university degrees (4 out of 5) work in positions that require require only graduation from secondary school or a 2-year college (Pay Roll, Novitet, 2001; Systematisation of working places, Novitet, 1999).
There is also obvious gender discrimination relating to maternity leaves. While on leave, some of the women could not use their holiday and holiday benefits. During 2001, there were 35 workers (about 5% of the total number of workers) in Novitet who did not realize their right to take a holiday, and 18 of them who did not realize their right to take a holiday were women on maternity leave. Only four women on maternity leave used this right. Nevertheless, this was related to the fact that the entire production unit where those four women worked was sent, as superfluous, on a compulsory holiday.
There is a methodological problem in attempting to include the effect of intra-household allocation in my analysis; however, I can make some indications. I investigated gender patterns within five households where one or both members worked at Novitet. In all five households, I carried out in-depth interviews with both the husband and wife. The division of labour within these households is still placing a heavier burden on the women. The division of labour and dynamics within the households seem to influence opportunities and outcomes for the women’s employment outside the home. Apparently, women’s bargaining positions within the household were enhanced when they worked outside the home and were members of collective organizations. Nevertheless, further research in this field could give more specific results. For example, it would be interesting to examine how households redistribute resources in the face of competing preferences and unequal bargaining power among members and whether their employment opportunities and each spouse’s assets at marriage have differential effects on intra-household allocations, household-level outcomes, and individual-level outcomes (such as children’s education and clothing) (Quisumbing and Maluccio, 1999; Appendix 4 of World Bank, 2001).
Can Globalisation’s Gender Effects be Changed?
Gender analysis is important for understanding that trade liberalization has different effects on women’s and men’s employment and working conditions and on women’s unpaid labour. Even the World Bank promoted the view that economic globalisation and its neo-liberal policies have negative impacts on social welfare and social services such as health and education (World Bank, 2001). Governments’ reductions in subsidies to social services force an increasing number of women to provide unpaid work. However, World Bank justify its focus on gender issues by the fact that “gender inequality at home and in the market is also believed to result in women’s inability to respond effectively to incentives to increase their productivity” (Bell with Brambilla, 2002: 4). Also, the UN Report on the Role of Women in Development concludes that “globalisation has given rise to ambiguous and at time contradictory effects on gender equality” and recommends that national governments make their macroeconomic policies gender-sensitive and improve their regulation and coordination of the international economy (United Nations, 1999: 100).
However, feminist economists broaden the neoclassical focus to incorporate the gender perspective into the efficiency and differential effects of trade (Fontana, Jokes and Masika, 1998). Firstly, this means understanding the inability of countries, sectors, and regions to capitalize on potential trade opportunities. Secondly, it means respecting the fact that the benefits of trade expansion can differ for men versus women and also among different groups of women (Espini and Staveren, 2001: 15). Feminist economists’ analyses show how important it is to “investigate if women acquire greater control over their income, make spending pattern changes, and if there is a reallocation of time between unpaid and paid work occurring as a result of their employment entry in the export trade sectors of the economy?” (Fontana, Jokes and Masika, 1988). This direction of analysis inspires my future work in this field.
Some points, however, can be made already. An increase in textile manufacturing for export in Serbia could be easily associated with the feminisation of the industrial labour force (Joekes, 1987). An increase in wages in the Serbian textile industry, even in the short run, is not expected. It is more realistic to expect persistently low wages and cuts in the number of workers. My short analysis is only an illustration of those trends, which are clearly visible in this particular firm. Women remain lower paid, segregated in poorly-paid jobs and often deprived of work benefits guaranteed by law. In other words, the low-cost comparative advantage is predicated upon the unpaid care economy interlocking with a low-paid labour force.
During the 1990s, due to the state-directed strategy of non-development, most of the households, companies, and people experienced a dramatic increase in poverty. This had a significant impact on the care economy in Serbia. Home-made goods and services were substituted for market goods due to the low purchasing power of households; there was a break-down of public provisions and social services, up to the point of increased need for care-work from female children.  The attack on paid maternity leaves and child subsidies and provisions (that used to be provided by government), that started at the beginning of Serbian transition, continues unabated. It leaves child care entirely to the family, and this – because of gender relations – means to the women. This “privatisation” of care, feminisation of nurturing, coupled with poverty, pushes women back into the private domain. The context of the unpaid care economy and low female wages further reduce market-based costs and thus improve the comparative advantage at the expense of women.
The Serbian transitions lead to an increase of unemployment resulting from decreasing labour demand on the one hand and increasing labour supply on the other. In the situation of generally high unemployment rates, structural changes occurred in employment. These changes lead to greater availability of temporary, seasonal, and low-paid jobs. Women are likely to be crowded out even from such employment opportunities by unemployed men.
Some positive effects of all these changes may be expected, but they will not benefit everybody. Besides, all these changes have their time lags. In the short term, unemployment will remain high and the salaries of workers low. Highly-educated and skilled women may still get new job opportunities in the newly expanding sectors. However, we can hope only for a few female winners among many female losers amidst the expected economic changes.
Globalisation’s effects could be changed if powerful agents in companies, economies, and international markets follow the principles that housework and care are crucial parts of every economic system and that human welfare should be the central measure of economic success (FENN Seminar Report, 2002). The problems of Serbian governmental policy are its political instability, organization of the economy, and redistribution of social wealth. Its aims are to reduce the budget deficit and to achieve faster and higher growth rates, but not even this is consistently followed. Also, government could use some engendered measures to encourage domestic clothing industries and workers to export.
Furthermore, government policy fails to emphasize gender equality in the monitoring and enforcement of labour standards, in enforcing equal pay and employment opportunities and legislation. There are no signs of either corporate or state responsibility for gender equality of labour conditions. However, the situation with the Serbian government is not only specific to Serbia, and thus emphasizes the need to engender governments.
Finally, international organizations choose partners within the states with whom to implement programs for development and formulate the set of conditions under which the loans will be given. But they should evaluate the success of their trade policies in the sense of social justice and gender equality, i.e. trade contracts should include total social effects and differentiated effects on men and women.