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Rural women under gobalization


Economic globalization has so many different effects on different nations, cities, companies and people… … When talk about economy and gender. I always think about cheap labors in rural areas in Asian countries where men go to cities to look for more opportunities and leave women in rural areas taking care of children and old parents, and working in factories to produce expensive products like NIKE or iPads… But, this time I don’t want to show you something on women who get stuck in the rural areas talking about how miserable they are, instead, I want to talk about women who strive for change under the impact of globalization.

Well, what we can see from economic globalization’s impact now is many women going to colleges, or entering business as what men do. But what we cannot see from the impact of economic globalization is that there are lots of women in rural areas striving to make a change. I found this video clip on YouTube about China’s rural women try to make a difference (don’t worry it’s in English…).

In China, there is a phenomenon that less and less people in rural areas. And what have left in rural areas are non-educated women, children, and old people.  This old lady in the clip is well educated, globalized in a sense that she speaks perfect English. Unlike many people who left the rural area to cities to seek money and fame, the lady went to the rural area to bring hope to women who were left behind… She lets those rural young girls know that there is hope for them and for other women who get stuck in rural areas as long as those young girls realize that they are equal to men, and they are willing to make a change even they are in rural China.

Economic globalization has direct impact on cities. However, I believe the rural areas are somehow the key to a striving and powerful nation… We cannot abandon rural areas only because the cities are more globalized. It’s good that the lady in the video clip is trying to help rural women. But as I said before, in Asia, many countries as Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, of which the rural areas are less developed than China, many women are still suffering and sacrificing in the economic globalization. I do not really know about rural problems in the U.S, Ecuador, or Saudi Arabia. So I’m really curious about:

  1. What are the rural problems in your culture (I would also love to hear about other opinions from my culture too)?
  2. What is your opinion as a global citizen about the phenomenon that women are left in rural area in China or other Asian countries?
  3. How important do you think people in rural areas are in the process of globalization?
  4. Is there any way that we could use globalization as a tool to help those women instead of a negative influence on them?

I look forward to your discussions. Happy spring break!



  1. ACJ says:

    Powerful video Sonya. I think it takes an issue that might be perceived as distant to us and places it front and center. In reality though, I can name rural areas in the U.S. that are struggling with similar mentalities… women are not able to hold higher level positions or higher profile jobs for that matter. Hence they are viewed as second class citizens in their community and region. For instance, there are some places in Southern Kentucky where these view while not as prevalent are root in the cultural norms.
    Like China I do believe that rural issues must be brought to the forefront where they can become a part of the greater dialogue about globalization. The irony is that if a women in China is dealing with a gendered political issues typically it’s manifested in a remote region in the U. S. and visa versa.

    Some rural health concerns in the U. S. for instance include:
    –People suffering from mental health conditions living in rural areas are more likely to be uninsured than other residents of rural areas.

    –A pressing concerns of rural Appalachia is that of obesity, a condition that can lead to such chronic conditions as cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, hypertension, dyslipidemia, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, musculoskeletal problems, and some cancers. Physical activity is often limited by obesity, which can lead to further increase in weight, decreased cardiovascular fitness, and loss of productivity. As well access to facilities to exercise at are not present in rural communities. (see: http://www.mountainpeeksmag.com/salobstudy.htm).


    • sonigreca says:

      Dr. CJ – it’s interesting to me that obesity is one of the big concerns of rural Appalachia, because in China, rural people are slim and strong for doing all heavy work everyday. I admire many of them because they are working hard and the nature of them is really pure. But on the other hand, i do believe there is health concerns like mental health conditions. We had some social cases before that some people came from rural areas to cities. They saw the big difference between rural areas and cities and became angry about it… And they did things like robbery, or hurting people…. I personally think that some rural people in the US choose not to leave their home and they can survive in rural areas. But most of rural Chinese people have to stay because they don’t have any choice. Peasants help China to establish the whole country. But now they get the least care from the government… It’s sad… and wrong…

  2. Sonya- I love this topic and agree that it can likely be generalized across various cultures that people in rural areas are less affected by globalization. I have personally had an interest in traveling more within the US to understand the diversity within my own culture. I was just discussing with a coworker this week that we need to remember that how we think of things in the Northeastern part of the US (education, careers, politics, health) is not how things are seen in the rest of the US. I think a lot of this divide from cities to rural communities comes from educational opportunities.

    US Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, said last Saturday “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said. “What a snob.” He was speaking to a crowd of Tea Party activists in Troy, Michigan and was met with applause. When I hear this comment, I am so offended that someone who wants to be President of the United States doesn’t value higher education the way I do, but I need to take a step back and understand that he was trying to appeal to people who do not value education because they may not have the access to it.

    Watching the video shared, I am so impressed that this one woman is working to help Chinese women in rural areas. I also wasn’t aware that the expectations for women in that position would be that they would work in factories, which many know are from US manufacturers that underpay (and outsource often because they can underpay.) While the women in the video are taking a small step, I believe every step counts and hope they will be able to change their cultural norms with each new step they take. I think part of globalization that can have a positive impact is knowing about these various situations. There are so many small NGOs that are looking to help people just like this in the world and creating awareness for this issue will help people stand behind it globally to help. It is also something that needs to be recognized and addressed within the individual countries that there is such a divide and that the people in rural areas are not afforded the same opportunities, starting with education.

    • Boon Han says:

      Hi Jacki, I was thinking the exact same thing whenI saw the Rick Santorum clip on TV!! Why would he say such a thing and why would people applaud him? Higher education can’t be a bad thing right? Whatever you decide to do later in life (even in careers that don’t technically require a college degree), it will still be better to be armed with a college degree isn’t it? I understand about it being Politics and saying things that you think people would want to hear…. Even if his audience didn’t have access college education, they should not in anyway begrudge it so much that they wish for their children to not have access to college education too…. From an objective point of view, his speech just didn’t make sense….

      • sonigreca says:

        Hi Jacki and Boon Han, your conversation just remind a show I watched last night. It’s a new show in China. Ten people are on the stage and one of them challenge another one from these 10 people by answering some questions based on daily life, history, Chinese history, world news, etc… They anser questions by turns and whoever cannot answer the question in 15 second, he/she loses… In last night show, a man from Microsoft was challenged by a man who drives taxi. The host said that the taxi driver did not go to college but he could possibly win this Microsoft guy because anything could happen… I didn’t like what she said because in her mind for one, a man who drives taxi must be less educated, for two, going to college is a standard to measure a person’s knowledge…. Some people in China, they cannot afford to go to college. But they still work hard, and try everything to learn. I don’t like people using education to put others in different levels…

        Jacki, I like that you mentioned NGOs. I’ve always want to work for NPOs or NGOs, and that’s why I came to study communication management. But NGOs have many problem in China because it hardly be non-GOVERNMENT… I have a friend from Hong Kong. She works at a foundation to help rural areas in Southern China. It’s tough for them because local government always cut the money that goes to the foundation… NGOs in China has a long way to go… But I still believe that there is hope for rural people…

        Thanks for you comments. Have a great spring break.

  3. grabernieto says:

    I really enjoyed the video because it shows a different side of the whole rural migration in China. By focusing on the side of women this provide a different scope to the situation. I like the fact that Chinese goverment has establish equality among genders and the women in the video are strenghting their rights and learning about their roles. It is also a great example about globalization, I think as the barriers diminish, individuals are more influenced by other “western” cultures and there is a need to obtain similar rights and opportunities. Women regardless of background are entilled to equal rights and opportunities and that should be a global situation.
    Thinking about the rural areas in Ecuador, there is a lot of similarities with the situation in China. Individuals in the rural areas move to the largest cities in quest for work, usually the lowest of jobs here or they move to the city to reinforce their education in very few cases. The current government has tried to reinforce an equal opportunity to all provinces and its inhabitants, since cities and large provinces received the most funding, thus hurting small provinces and its inhabitants with their resources. So nowadays there is a movement with the government to educate inhabitants to better their lives and break away from the past life cycles. I think this whole shift in population patterns are just a great example of the global and changing world that we live in. They are the example on how individuals want to improve their lives and obtain better way to live. I think globalization provides with individuals of different backgrounds the opportunity to look at other established models or societies and thus have a desire to improve themselves and change their lives. I think is inspirational to see individuals who strive regardless of background, they are able to break away from all past oppressions and change their lives radically.

    • sonigreca says:

      Thanks for your comment Enrique, I’m curious about the movement with the government to educate rural inhabitants in Ecuador. I think the Chinese government should do something like that… I’m sure our government is doing things to help rural people. But I wish to see more people like the lady in the video clip… Again, thanks for you comment. Enjoy spring break.

  4. Ji Li says:

    I have never done any research to see exactly how many females are left at home in China’s rural areas, taking charge of all family issues while their husbands are outside working. But I know for sure that the number will be out of my expectation based on China’s huge population.

    There is a fact that some rural areas in China are really dropped behind when the outside world is developing faster and faster. For some people in those areas, especially the females, their ultimate life goal is to support the family, to procreate posterity for their husbands, and to be a good daughter-in-low to take care of the old. For this kind of women, who don’t have the resource to get educated well, they might be really willing and proud to work around their house or do some other kind of labor work to support their family, which is regarded as their highest honor in life. In this case, it is really difficult for people to persuade those women to open their eyes to the outside world, to pay less attention to their family, and to pursue something more valuable, because their most valuable thing in life is their family.

    For women who do have the will to chase for more in life other than only family, the society, the world needs to offer a helping hand to get them educated, providing them with more knowledge and opportunities to get closer to the outside world as they require.

    People in the rural areas are important to globalization for sure. When they get educated and have the opportunity to speak to the outside world, they can convey their valuable thoughts and ideas to others, taking part in a lot of activities which may have strong influence on the process of globalization. They are also global citizens.

    • sonigreca says:

      Ji, I agree what you said about those women’s life honor. However, I think the reason they honor their life like that because that’s what they were told all their life. Sure they do not want to change. But we can’t guarantee that when they have conversation or communication to outside their home they will still not want to change… I’ve seen and interviewed some women when I studied Journalism that they said they never wanted to come to the city because they liked the countryside and they hated when their children take them to the cities, but after a while, they liked cities and did not want to go back. I think the problem is not whether or not they are willing to make change in their life. The problem is whether or not they are given equal chance as in the cities to make a change. These rural women have to be helped and educated not for they all have to come out of the rural areas, but for that they could educate their children about the good thing of their home, for that they could make a change in the rural areas. I know their efforts may be minor. But if no one tries, the rural areas and women and olds in those rural ares will be abandoned forever…

  5. Boon Han says:

    I come from a country without a rural population because my country is so small that the entire country is simply a city. We do have some modern chicken and fish farms but over 90% of the food we consume in Singapore is imported. We are highly dependent on our neighbors and the rest of the world for our food and water, and food security is a very big issue for my country. Every time we have a diplomatic spat with our neighbors, there would always be some people who suggest that they will cut off our water supply and stop exporting food to Singapore etc…

    To me, the urban population will not be able to survive without the rural population supporting them through agriculture and the production of food. The world cannot exist with every single person working in banks and corporations and no one to tend to the fields. The role that each play complements each other in the grand scheme of things and one cannot do without the other. However, globalization has dealt a very heavy blow to the rural population and the economic pegging of the value of goods produced by them as compared to the value of services provided by a Wall Street banker is becoming disproportionately skewed. The farmer produces tangible goods which provides the sustenance for life but the banker on the other hand, simply shuffles money around but doesn’t exactly produce any real tangible good; but is being paid hundreds if not thousands of times more than farmers. This, is something that the world has to gradually reconcile and reach an equilibrium.

    Although Chairman Mao said that there should be equality between men and women many years back, but the Chinese society remains largely patriarchal in nature. Out of the 25 Politburo members of the Chinese Communist Party, there is only 1 female. However, slowly but surely chinese society has changed and more and more opportunities are opening up for women.

    In a strange way, I feel that the Chinese government’s birth policy of only allowing each couple to have one child has in some way nudged the chinese society a little further towards equality of the sexes as regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl, the parents accept it and love the child all the same. This is quite a change from the archaic thinking of favoring the boys in the family as they are the ones who carry on the lineage of the clan and married daughters are simply just married off…. Not sure if my Chinese classmates agree with me on this point though….

    • sonigreca says:

      Boon Han, thanks for your comments. I like your farmer and banker comparison. Also, to be honest, I don’t like the one child policy. First, it only controls population in urban cities. In rural areas the policy it’s not working… People still have 3 to 5 children. Second, as you said, it’s nudging the Chinese society towards equality of the sexes. Back to 15 years ago, there is always news about abandoned baby girl found on the road… or toilet… Many rural people have more children because they need men to work in the farms… Nowadays, there is a new policy in the cities that parents are not allowed to know the gender of the baby until the day the baby is born. But in rural areas I’m not sure this policy is working either….

  6. KSA ROCKS! says:

    Hi Sonya,
    I think you chose a very interesting topic to talk about – there are many people who do not often hear about how rural areas in foreign countries operate, and sometimes we sweep the troubles of the disenfranchised under the rug. The fact that you chose to speak about the people you are most familiar with (women in rural areas in China) is very interesting, and your post about how rural women are suffering gave me pause. We always think of globalization as a universally good thing, but how does it affect others negatively? In the case of people in rural areas, it almost seems as though globalization and equality is ardently fought against; in this way, women are set back even further by those who don’t want to lose their power over them because of these progressive ideas. With that in mind, I applaud you bringing these issues to light.

    • What is your opinion as a global citizen about the phenomenon that women are left in rural area in China or other Asian countries?
    I think it is very unfortunate that women in China and other Asian countries seem to be disproportionately left behind in terms of progress and economic advancement. I am sure that there are many women who would like to become more economically mobile, and make the kinds of changes they wish to see in their own lives. In order for real change to be made, a more equitable sense of gender equality should be found where men and women equally shift between urban and rural areas as they see fit, and have the opportunities they wish.

    • How important do you think people in rural areas are in the process of globalization?
    Despite the often closed-off culture that arises in many rural areas, I still believe that they are important in the realm of globalization. Cities are not the only important areas of a nation; everyone has to be on board with the consolidation and communication between cultures and a push toward diversity. People in rural areas still make up a substantial portion of a country’s population, and as such they have needs and desires that must be addressed as a country globalizes.

    • Is there any way that we could use globalization as a tool to help those women instead of a negative influence on them?
    I think that it is really interesting to see that women are being exposed to globalization in the rural areas of your country, but in a negative way (through being forced into factory work in order to stay afloat). I believe the woman that you linked to in that video (in addition to others like her) and her plan is a step in the right direction. If we are to provide positive change to rural women through globalization, people in globalized areas have to be willing to go back to rural areas and teach these people things. Far too often, people escape rural areas and move to urban areas to get out of such an insular culture. Without anyone going back, it just leads to a greater cutoff from the rest of society in rural areas. The only way globalization can be brought back to these areas in a tangible and positive way is by bringing it from the cities into small towns and farms.

    Have a great spring break ^_^

    • sonigreca says:

      Hi Maha, thanks for your insightful comment. I totally agree with you on the last point. It is hard in China. But I believe if someone would willing to do it there is still hope. I also want to help those women in the future when I become capable helping them. You have a great spring break too.

  7. Laura Chechette says:

    1. During my time in AmeriCorps NCCC I had the chance to live for short periods of time in very rural areas of the United States including North Dakota and Iowa. The problems that I witnessed were in regards to education, drug/alcohol, and early marriage. Although there were schools in the town where I lived, it didn’t seem like there was as much of an emphasis placed on education as there is in other parts of the country. The schools also weren’t equipped with new technology (smart boards, new computers, etc.) to help the students keep up. Because there isn’t much to do in terms of entertainment in rural areas many people turn to drugs and alcohol to “have fun.” The last “problem” might not be viewed as a problem to everyone, but it appeared that many of the residents either got married really young and started having children or left the town and never came back.
    2. I never realized that the majority of women working in factories in China were female. When I think “factory worker” my mind instantly creates an image of a man working in a factory putting cars together. I think that China and other Asian counties need more people like Wu Qing to help spread the message that everyone matters and is equal, no matter their sex. I think her statement that it will take time for change to happen is very important though. Especially because of the 1 child rule that I think is still in place in China. In a country where a family can only have one child and most families want that child to be a boy it is going to take time to change the perspective. However the damage has already been done because the male to female ratio in the country has been drastically altered over the past 20+ years.

  8. andreslmc says:

    Hi Sonia—This is a very interesting topic. I’ll begin by noting that women in Colombia have made great social strides in recent years. Many women in Colombia have important positions in government and in private industry. Also, now more than ever women in Colombia are graduating from college and are receiving advanced degrees that have enabled them to compete for jobs in the labor market. I begin by citing these accomplishments given that not too long ago—in fact perhaps just one generation ago—the opportunities that women had in Colombia for social progress was much more limited due what was once a highly patriarchal society.

    Nevertheless, this social progress has not been accessible to all women, and has been least accessible to women who live in rural areas in Colombia. I think that during the height of the war between drug cartels and the Colombian government, women suffered the most as they lost their sons and husbands during the warfare, and as is often the case during war, were the victims of rape and prostitution.

    In regards to China, certainly the challenges that women are facing in rural China is a dilemma that many countries face when they achieve robust economic growth, especially in urban centers. I think that this video is a great example of the type of civic initiatives that must take place for any society to achieve social progress where economic growth and economic opportunities are more equitable. While government laws and policies can have the biggest impact in formally pronouncing social change, the most powerful social change begins at the grassroots level as is the case with this teacher who has decided to instill social change ‘group by group.’

  9. tjglover23 says:

    This is a very interesting topic but it is not one that I know that much about. I think the stereotype of being from a rural area is that you are less intelligent because you have been exposed to fewer things and because your parents may be considered less educated. Not saying this is right, just that this is how how perceive it. I think like race or education where you are from whether it is rural, urban, or suburban is used to define and categorize people.
    What is your opinion as a global citizen about the phenomenon that women are left in rural area in China or other Asian countries?
    I don’t think it is fair and that like the video shows that it is important to empower and educate young women about who they are and what their options are. I think we are failing as globalized citizens if we neglect a group of women because of where they are located. However, I also want to think about the other side of this, could it be that some of those women chose that life. There are two sides to every story so from the outside looking in I may not agree but I think if you expose women in rural areas to their options and give them the right to chose like all people then, it is better.
    How important do you think people in rural areas are in the process of globalization? I am not sure if people in certain rural areas are in the process of globalization but I do think that as we become more globalized it should be our mission to know about them and if they want to be, then to help include them into the process.
    Is there any way that we could use globalization as a tool to help those women instead of a negative influence on them? I would have to get to know the women and the culture first before I could say a method that I could honestly believe in.

  10. Alex says:

    When I think about rural areas in the U.S., I think of Native American reservations, where the people live in tight knit communities in rural areas separate from other groups, and they are often not encouraged to leave their communities for education or job advances. This example of mine is different because it does not necessarily involve one gender, but rather, it has to do with the isolation and the mentality of entire communities of people.

    Another example in the U.S. I think would be immigrants. In some cities, immigrants stand on the corner waiting to be picked up to do odd jobs in construction, landscaping, carpentry, and other trades, and will be paid under the table. The status of the immigrants in the country has an effect on whether they work legally, or whether they take action to advance themselves with some sort of job training or language skill.

    The older woman in the video who conducts the workshops for the Chinese women has made a decision to empower these women and instill in them a desire to advance. I often hear lines in music and movies like “Don’t forget where you came from,” “Don’t forget your roots,” and “When you make it out, always go back.” I think that this woman has done this – she made the decision to go back and help the other women.

    I think that many societies are changing in roles for women. There used to be a lot of emphasis on the women staying home to raise the children, and now women are receiving more education, are working in higher power jobs, and they don’t have as much time to stay home with children. Their priorities have shifted. I read an article in a magazine about the difficulty of being a businesswoman in the U.S. now with the expectations of work, and the expectations of bearing children, and taking time off of work for maternity. Basically, I think the roles of women are shifting in many places – social classes, societies, and countries. When I look at my grandparents, there was little to no focus on education. I don’t know that any of them received a high school education. The men entered the military and went into labor jobs, and the women worked in factories.

    In regards to the effect of people outside rural areas on the rural people’s work life, I do not know if it is good that we purchase products made by women in factories because it stimulates their economic situation, or if we are instead allowing strife to continue. When I was very young, I used to hear people say, “Don’t buy Nike – it was made by children in China who don’t get paid anything.” So when I had to buy sneakers regularly and I went shopping with my mother, I consciously decided as a child that I would pick out Adidas sneakers. I don’t know if Adidas was any better, but I didn’t want to encourage cheap labor in China, so I avoided Nike. Now I do buy Nike products. At one point, someone told me “You’re helping the people in China’s factories by continuing to buy their products.” I don’t know what is the better alternative.

    • sonigreca says:

      Well Alex, I don’t think buying Nike is really help those women or kids in China, because after all, the money will go to Nike…. Those labors won’t get more money no matter what…

  11. sonigreca says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I really liked all your dicussion:) And I’ve been thinking of these rural issues in the past few days. Some of your comments really brought some insights to me. I hope you guys could start noticing these rural women in China, and may be one day you could help them as well. Sorry I cannot answer comments to everyone, for I’m on a trip. But I would like to discussion issues like those in my post in person. I wish you all have a great Spring break!

  12. zhoulinjolin says:

    As globalization developing, the issue becomes more serious. Because cities are more globalized and can offer more opportunities, as a result of which more women, young children and old people will be left in rural areas. The phenomenon of young men moving from rural areas to cities will cause rural areas to be even poorer for the reason that major labor all go out. As we know that wealth-poverty gap is an big obstruct hindering globalization and economy prosperity. Therefore, to seek a solution to settle the problem of rural areas women affected by globalization can actually promote the progress of globalization.
    Two points came up to my mind:
    1) rural areas should get more support from central government. The support could be financial allocation, investment, tax relief and policy preferences, which are to create more job openings and increase incomes, and to save major labors working in rural areas.
    2) strengthen education for women in rural area. Like the training in the video, women in rural areas need to catch up with the world. They need to know what globalization could possibly bring to them positively and they should strive for the benefits. Because of globalization, they should have equal job opportunities to earn more money as men do instead of being left in rural areas and working as factory women with no interests to guarantee.

    Sure, as the lady in the video says, it takes time.

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