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Free trade, fair trade and gender inequality in less developed countries

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  • Julie Steinkopf Rice

    (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM, USA)

Abstract

Fair trade is often viewed as an alternative to free trade that reduces global inequality and poverty. This paper examines whether fair trade is truly an alternative to the free market, and as a consequence whether it can effectively advance gender equality and alleviate the poverty of women in less developed countries (LDCs). First, neoclassical economics and trade liberalization policies are reviewed. The paper then examines how fair trade seeks to correct market imperfections, thereby making the free market more efficient in distributing wealth. The ability of fair trade to address the central issues related to trade liberalization and women in LDCs is discussed, and the gendered structures of fair trade identified. Whether fair trade can provide gender equality within global capitalist structures is a theoretical matter that requires further empirical inquiry. Suggestions for future research, informed by feminist theories of the political economy, are provided. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie Steinkopf Rice, 2010. "Free trade, fair trade and gender inequality in less developed countries," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 42-50.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:1:p:42-50
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.407
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fontana, Marzia & Wood, Adrian, 2000. "Modeling the Effects of Trade on Women, at Work and at Home," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1173-1190, July.
    2. Mark Hayes, 2006. "On the efficiency of fair trade," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 64(4), pages 447-468.
    3. Kucera, David & Milberg, William, 2000. "Gender Segregation and Gender Bias in Manufacturing Trade Expansion: Revisiting the "Wood Asymmetry"," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1191-1210, July.
    4. Elson, Diane & Cagatay, Nilufer, 2000. "The Social Content of Macroeconomic Policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1347-1364, July.
    5. Harvey, David, 2007. "A Brief History of Neoliberalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283279.
    6. Elson, Diane, 1999. "Labor Markets as Gendered Institutions: Equality, Efficiency and Empowerment Issues," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 611-627, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Viresh Amin, 2014. "The Role of Trust-Control Mechanisms in Operations Processes: Mitigating Mission Drift in a Microfinance Institution in Gujarat, India," Management Working Papers 7, Birkbeck Department of Management, revised Jun 2014.

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