traditionally: textiles, garment, food processing
now also: electronics
Nature of the work:
Low paying, repetitive, noisy, often with very poor air quality.
Jobs segregated by gender even though women could perform most of the higher paying jobs performed by men
Common injuries/diseases suffered by women working in these industries: hearing loss/deafness, lung ailments, repetitive motion disorders (“carpal tunnel syndrome”)
“Making Women’s Labor Cheap”
Cynthia Enloe, 1989, “Blue Jeans and Bankers,” Bananas, Bases and Beaches: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley: UC Press.
Definition of “skilled labor”: the jobs that men do are described as skilled (e.g. in garment shops, cutting and pressing);
jobs that women do (sewing in garment shops, running spinning machines, weaving machines in textile plants) are labeled “unskilled”
economy works the way it does…in part because
of the decisions which have cheapened the value of women’s work.
These decisions have
first feminized certain home and workplace tasks—turning
them into ‘women’s work’ – and then rationalized the devaluation of
work (Enloe, 160)
Without laws and cultural presumptions about sexuality, marriage and feminine respectability these transformations wouldn’t have been possible (160).
Number of workers by region
Women who work in light industry are less politically important constituencies, less “militant” that traditionally male industries (mining, auto workers)
Traditionally, they have
the gendered nature of international development, global economy: the well-dressed male investment banker vs. the over-worked, poorly dressed female garment worker
Negative Impacts of EPZs
Global sweatshop movement as a response
Arguments in Favor of Free Trade Zones
bring jobs and capital investment that would otherwise not be there
need to grow their way out of poverty
Quakers working to improve working conditions in N Mexico
Fair Trade Movement
Nike Code of Conduct