The Delhi rape case clearly illustrates an ongoing challenge in unequal and poor societies: how can women achieve equality in ways that contradict the contradiction? Economic opportunities alone do not create equality. In many countries, such opportunities collide with traditional gender expectations that restrict basic autonomy, such as the ability to leave their homes unacceptable.
Rape becomes a tool to reinforce sexual roles. For example, many in India – including policymakers – accuse women of rape and have more control over their lives. The government agency, chairperson of India’s National Commission for Women, worked to advance gender equality, saying of rape, “blindly destroying our culture from the West and such crimes are happening.”
Our research uncovers an unexpected force for economic development and continued gender equality: multinational corporations. On their face, these corporations have nothing to do with gender equality. Yet their investments bring both high-quality jobs and technologies, as well as more gender-equal hiring and employment practices. Our research has found that when these corporations set up new subsidiaries in India, they empower women in ways that help reduce rape.
Measuring how global corporations’ investments affect rape is challenging. For example, many may choose to locate places where rape has been denied regardless.
We focus on India because in 2005, India – quite unexpectedly – ended restrictions on global corporate investment in over 100 industries. The following year the investment almost tripled. This time allows us to consider these investments as a surprise. Most of this investment flowed into only six of India’s 36 states and territories. We compare changes in rape in these six states before and after 2005 with changes in rape in the rest of India during the same period.
We analyze national survey data to evaluate how these investments affect communities. The National Sample Survey of India collects detailed information about employment, salary and household consumption every five years. The National Election Survey of India provides insight into voter turnout and considers traditional gender roles. In both, we compare answers before and after 2005, those changes in communities with corporate investment in the rest of India.
Investments made by multinational corporations increase wages, which has important consequences.
In communities in which multinational corporations have located their Indian subsidiaries, there has been an increase in wages and a double increase in pensions compared to men.
We also found that communities in communities with these corporations became more likely to support women engaging in politics, which suggests that women have begun to believe in gender equality. The more collaborative employment practices of multinational corporations give employees more decision-making authority. This result suggests that these practices may spread to other parts of the lives of female employees.
These and other changes helped prevent rape. On average, reported rapes fell 13 percent after investment, with nearly four fewer rapes per 1 million women per year. Families in these communities spent more on the phone, a security-enhancing technology that allows women to assist and authenticate documents.
Working women were also more likely to vote in subsequent elections. Voting – and engaging in politics in other ways – gives women the opportunity to demand public efforts to improve safety, such as improving roads and lighting.
How do global corporations promote gender equality?
The way global corporations bring technological progress, wherever they go, they implement employment and employment practices that promote gender equality. In fact, most gender-equal firms in India have subsidiaries of most multinationals.
Most investments in India come from advanced industrialized countries, so their corporate behavior reflects strong gender equality laws and norms from their home countries. Foreign managers who implement these practices are less likely to share the prevailing gender bias. Local firms have to compete with multinationals for workers and customers, making it more expensive for local firms to discriminate against women. Gender equality can only be a good business strategy. Some evidence suggests that women managers in multinationals are more productive and innovative than their male counterparts.
How can global corporations maintain gender equality in developing countries?
Last year, global corporations invested $ 1.3 trillion worldwide. Nearly half of this was in developing countries. These investments are widely regarded as uniquely valuable engines for economic growth and development.
Not surprisingly, developing countries work hard to attract investment from global corporations, offering tax breaks, subsidies, and lax regulation as a lure. These efforts are controversial because they make global corporations prosper at the expense of poor countries. Our research suggests that the power and leverage of these companies can promote gender equality in developing countries. Politicians may support traditional gender roles, but the investment they seek may weaken those roles.
To ensure this, these corporations can and do leverage their leverage over developing countries. Some outsourcing efforts, such as developing countries manufacturing low-skill exports such as textiles, can increase gender inequality. But in at least one specific way, such corporations can push development towards greater gender equality. These large and economically important employers – just by being local – can make long-term calculations about educating girls, delaying marriages, and producing fewer children, which maintain and maintain gender equality in generations to come Help in
The 2012 Delhi rape is a horrifying example of how gender discrimination reduces gender equality. For many countries, international corporate investment can support economic growth while strengthening gender equality.