During recent weeks the world witnessed several landmark events. Leaders of nations big and small were forced to make difficult decisions. The global nature of the pandemic and the ensuing crisis changed the face of globalization itself. These changes often had mixed results. Here is a quick look at some of these trends.
Global commerce vs. local priorities
While the pandemic was spreading, most countries shut off their borders to all but essential movement. However the restrictions soon expanded into the economic and other domains. In March India placed a ban on the global export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that showed promise for treating coronavirus. The US government stopped the export of masks to Canada under the Defense Production Act. Widespread logistical issues caused fears about international cooperation breaking down. Most of these challenges were caused by the disruption of key global supply chains.
Governments and firms are now looking at models that can shift their reliance away from overseas suppliers. Large corporations are trying to move from global just-in-time supply to more controllable local sourcing. The Harvard Business Review predicted in May that public opinion about globalization is likely to permanently change.
Empowerment of leadership
Many world leaders did their utmost to combat the impacts of COVID-19. However, some countries seemed to have exceptionally effective strategies. Nations that suffered fewer losses from the pandemic greatly credited their national leaders for their effective policies and timely response. These leaders became exceptionally popular and empowered. For example, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen quickly closed off the country’s borders and initiated a lockdown in early March. This helped reduce the number of effective cases considerably. According to a July poll by the statistics portal Statista, 76% of the Danish people now support her.
Vietnamese President Nguyễn Phú Trọng issued a guidance on outbreak prevention and detection as early as January 21. In June the IMF reported that because of this proactive approach Vietnam will make a quicker economic recovery than other countries in the region. The president gained considerable popularity for his proactive decisions.
One trend has been consistent globally. Populations have depended on their national leaders to make sound judgments, and follow them up with decisive action. Narratives from around the world give evidence that in a crisis people are willing to empower their leaders with unbounded trust and support. In coming years we are likely to see a new wave of global leadership characterized by bold decisions and bolder actions.
Gender and leadership
Female state leaders might be seen in a different light after the pandemic. A June publication by The Harvard Business Review mentions that countries with women in leadership have suffered six times fewer confirmed deaths from COVID-19 than countries with governments led by men. This indicates that the role of gender in world leadership is likely to change.
The global media was quick to highlight the “me first” kind of behavior from prominent leaders of the world. Yet, there was plenty of cross-border cooperation motivated by a “let’s work together” ideology. This was particularly evident in the scientific community. Scientists in Australia and China collectively analyzed the COVID-19 genome. They made it freely available to help speed up the global vaccine research. To this end health experts from all continents regularly share information on various online communication platforms. Clinical trials are being conducted on a global scale.
Flow of information
In some ways the present crisis has brought nations closer together, and unified them with a stream of essential data. In March a team of 300 engineers joined forces to build a 3D-printed ventilator on Facebook under the Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies initiative. In May UNESCO organized a global hackathon to find solutions for controlling COVID-19. More than 165 participants from 26 countries contributed to the event. Some of the ongoing open source projects to fight the crisis are unprecedented in their global scale and scope. The Institute of Management Development predicts that the world may well become more globalized, at least in terms of the flow of ideas and solutions, if not products.
The gig economy
While corporations try to find ways to localize the supply of materials, the exact opposite is taking place in human resources. Organizations big and small are seeking remote workers and gig workers. Gig work is now being done at scale. With cost-effectiveness a priority, organizations are no longer averse to hiring overseas and temp workers. It is easy for businesses to send money online to pay their contract workers regardless of geography. The reliance on full-time workers is in decline. According to Deloitte’s ‘Future of Work Accelerated’ report, 60% of organizations are estimating an increase on the reliance of gig workers. These new trends are powering the gig economy.
As the world economy becomes more globalized, developed nations are starting to look at those that are less wealthy as prime places to trade with and invest in. It is because of this that global trade is now starting to peak in Africa, a region long ignored when it came to trade agreements. One of the biggest leaders in the movement has been the Middle East. The nations in this area are starting to invest heavily in Africa for many reasons, along with forming trade agreements.
There are many reasons that Africa is being favored by Middle Eastern countries. The first, and major reason is that they are close by. Trading and working with another nation is much easier when the two of them are in close proximity, and this is certainly true for Africa and the Middle East. Working with someone who is nearby, or at least in a similar time zone, makes communicating and working with one another simpler and more efficient. Another benefit of close proximity is that the cultures are similar to one another. This again, makes it easier for the two places to communicate effectively.
Besides being close to one another, the Middle East is also full aware of the challenges that Africa is facing. For a long time, countries in the Middle East struggled to build infrastructure, along with training a capable workforce. Africa is facing many of the same problems now as new businesses are looking to expand into the region. A perfect example of this is Ras Al Khaimah, an area in the United Arab Emirates. The leader there, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi has led initiatives to increase the education levels in his country to help improve polices and the workforce. Since similar actions are needed in Africa, leaders like this will be well versed in what is needed. By being familiar with the challenges, leaders in the Middle East can help these nations out and reaching trading agreements is much easier.
There are two more factors that have led to an increased trade level with Africa, along with heavier investments. First, is that since Africa is largely still developing, there is more potential for growth. By investing in an area that has more room to grow, you are increasing your chances of getting a bigger return for your investment. Secondly, the governments in Africa have been relatively stable over the past decade. In previous years there was a lot of turnover, making it hard to reach trade agreements since you didn’t know who would be in power in a year. Now, countries like the United States and ones inside Europe have been able to reach substantial trade agreements with Africa, ones that were not always possible in the past.
As time continues to go by, trading is becoming even healthier in Africa. No longer is the primary export the illegal ivory trade that has plagued the area for so long. Legal and legitimate trade is flowing from Africa to all corners of the world, thanks large in part to the leadership of the Middle East. Their heavy investments and trade agreements have been examples for the rest of the world to follow. As such, we are now starting to see global trade peaking in Africa like we never have before.
Globalization is sending people packing. That is, they are packing their belongings and sending themselves across national boundaries to find better paying jobs. These transnational families maintain deep roots in their home countries while they establish new social networks within the host country. An increasing number of women are leaving their children behind in order to provide a better life for them in the future. What does it take to make it to the US and secure that elusive green card?
Globalization’s Impact on Families
Strong family ties make civilization work. When important family members move thousands of miles away, those ties are broken. Workers from less-developed nations often find themselves marginalized by the more prosperous societies they have moved to and are restricted to low-paying positions within it.
Relocated workers have a powerful impetus to remain working within their more prosperous neighbors. Most send money back home to support family members unable to find work there. In fact, these remittances account of 20% of the GDP in some nations.
If workers arrive without a green card, and many do, the process of obtaining one begins. Without a green card, they run the risk of not being able to return to the host country after a trip home. Since this process can take many years, it effectively breaks down long-standing family bonds. Getting a green card for parents of individuals who have already become a citizen can be a trialing process that challenges many to succeed.
Globalization: The Journey to a New Land
When money is scarce, desperate individuals will do just about anything to find work. Stories abound of local area markets where illegal immigrants find work for pennies on the dollar with the promise that legal help for a green card will be provided. Some of the most horrific news stories tell the tale of truckloads of people left to die as they were being smuggled into the US.
Workers flock to areas where their native language is spoken to learn how to negotiate their new home. Those areas are often high in crime with sub-optimal housing. Companies such as WalMart provide profitable money wiring services so that temporary workers, unable to secure a banking account, can send their wages home. Globalization is big business in more ways than one.
The Economic Effect on Local Economies of a Large Migrant Workforce
Much of the disruption of families during this period of globalization stems from their inability to get legal paperwork completed to ensure that family members are able to return for regular visits. These difficulties are fueled by ideas that the wealth of the host country is being diminished when large numbers of migrating workers from low-wage nations arise. Is this truly the case?
Many migrants don’t apply for legal status because they wish to return to their home nations once they have saved some money. By loosening the restrictions for legal residence, local economies can actually thrive by keeping the best workers. Mobile workforces can be available for peak production periods. Workers who have been able to maintain their family ties will be much less isolated and more likely to contribute to the society at large.
What do you think? Should nations like the US that attract many workers from less industrialized nations take steps to help migrant workers maintain their traditional family structures? Do transnational families help or harm the local and national economies?
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Iceland has been rated the country with the world’s smallest gender gap for five years in a row.
The rating means Iceland is the country where women enjoy the most equal access to education and healthcare. It is also where women are most likely to be able to participate fully in the country’s political and economic life.
Iceland is joined at the top of The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013 by its Nordic neighbors Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Overall, the gender gap narrowed slightly across the globe in 2013, as 86 of 133 countries showed improvements. However, “change is definitely slow”, says one of the report’s authors, Saadia Zahidi.
Europe has seven countries in the top 10 and the US is 23rd. The Philippines, at fifth, is the highest ranking Asian nation and Nicaragua is the highest-placed country from the Americas, at 10th.
The G20 group of leading industrial nations has no representative in the top 10, nor do the Middle East or Africa.
Top 10 countries:
7. New Zealand
The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013
Canada and the US come in at 20th and 23rd in the overall rankings. Both countries score well on education, where they are joint top alongside several other nations.
The US comes below Canada on politics, 60th to Canada’s 42nd place, but the US is ahead of its neighbour on economics, at sixth, and health, at 33rd, where Canada comes ninth and 49th respectively.
From Latin America, the three strongest-performing countries here are Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador, who all make the top 25 nations overall. Brazil’s position is unchanged from last year at 62nd.
“The health and education gap was closed here years ago. So it’s a continent ready to take off in terms of labor and political participation,” says Saadia Zahidi.
Northern European countries generally fare well compared with other countries. The WEF attributes this, in part, to policies that help people balance the twin demands of work and family life.
In southern Europe, the gender gap in education was reversed a number of years ago. However, there are lower levels of female participation in the workforce.
Middle East and North Africa is the region where some of the greatest gender inequalities exist. But the picture is far from uniform. For instance, the Gulf states have tended to invest heavily in female education, with a reverse gender gap taking place in the United Arab Emirates. Many more women than men are now finishing university here.
This contrasts with countries like Yemen, where levels of female education are very low.
Some of the Sub-Saharan African countries with the widest gender gaps can be found here; Chad and Ivory Coast all come close to the bottom of the overall rankings.
But southern Africa has some nations where a high level of labor force participation and political empowerment have helped bring them into the top 30 countries. Lesotho reaches 16th, South Africa is one place behind and Mozambique comes in at 26th.
In Asia, the Philippines stands out as the most equal country on the continent. This is down to closing the gap in health and education. The country also has a high level of economic participation, says the WEF.
China comes 69th overall, ahead of India at 101st. India’s low rank is due to poor scores from the WEF on education, health and economics.
How are the rankings made?
In order to compare relative gender gaps, the WEF creates an index from more than a dozen different sets of data. A score of one (or 100%) represents equality; zero (or 0%) represents inequality. Countries are then ranked on their results.