Why TTIP is a feminist issue


25 February 2016

From online harassment to sex trafficking: nowadays most world problems seem to be ‘feminist issues’. And now trade deals too?

Yes! And not only can these new trade deals known as TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) halt feminist progress. They can also undo some of the hard work feminists have already done over the past 20 to 50 years, both sides of the Atlantic.

Here are three good reasons why these trade deals between North America and Europe should be on every feminist’s radar:

TTIP and CETA threaten women’s employment. By increasing competition with international workers and discouraging unionisation, ‘free’ trade agreements tend to lower wages, worsen working conditions and trigger job losses. People on low-income and insecure employment such as textiles, care work and food services, will be hit the hardest. There are already plans within TTIP to abolish the tariff on textiles, leaving workers in the industry in a far worse condition. Two-thirds of these low-income jobs are held by women and of women of colour in particular.

These trade agreements are bad for women’s health. TTIP will allow big drug companies to impose longer patents on pharmaceuticals and therefore further monopolise the market. This will leave a large amount of people unable to access lifesaving treatments. The people most likely to suffer are those who use our public health service the most and are most likely to be in low-paid employment: women.

TTIP and CETA will mean more unpaid work for women. These agreements do not only threaten paid employment. They also intensify work at home. Job losses and lowering wages in the health and care sector will mean that a lot of this work will fall back on households. As women statistically still do most of the work at home, the unpaid care-labour are more likely to fall to them. As domestic work intensifies, women will find it harder to enter and compete on the labour market. 

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