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Globalization, Labor Standards, And Women'S Rights: Dilemmas Of Collective (In)Action In An Interdependent World

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  • Naila Kabeer

Abstract

This paper challenges the idea that a “social clause” to enforce global labor standards through international trade agreements serves the interests of women export workers in poor countries. Drawing on fieldwork in Bangladesh and empirical studies, the author argues that exploitative as these jobs appear to Western reformers, for many women workers in the South they represent genuine opportunities. Clearly, these women would wish to better their working conditions; yet having no social safety net, and knowing that jobs in the informal economy, their only alternative, offer far worse prospects, women cannot fight for better conditions. Moreover, global efforts to enforce labor standards through trade sanctions may lead to declining employment or to the transfer of jobs to the informal economy. Lacking measures that also address the conditions of workers in this informal economy, demands for “the social clause” will reinforce, and may exacerbate, social inequalities in the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Naila Kabeer, 2004. "Globalization, Labor Standards, And Women'S Rights: Dilemmas Of Collective (In)Action In An Interdependent World," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 3-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:10:y:2004:i:1:p:3-35
    DOI: 10.1080/1354570042000198227
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephanie Seguino, 2005. "Gender Inequality in a Globalizing World," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_426, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. King Dejardin, Amelita., 2009. "Gender (in)equality, globalization and governance," ILO Working Papers 994327273402676, International Labour Organization.
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:432727 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers & Gunseli Berik, 2006. "Asia's Race to Capture Post-MFA Markets: A Snapshot of Labor Standards, Compliance, and Impacts on Competitiveness," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2006_02, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    5. Elissa Braunstein, 2011. "Foreign Direct Investment and Development from a Gender Perspective," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Globalisation, Second Edition, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Günseli Berik & Yana Van Der Meulen Rodgers, 2010. "Options for enforcing labour standards: Lessons from Bangladesh And Cambodia," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 56-85.
    7. Knorringa, P., 2007. "Asian drivers and the future of responsible production and consumption," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18752, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Christine M. Koggel, 2015. "The Practical and the Theoretical: Comparing Displacement by Development and Ethics of Global Development," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 142-153, February.
    9. Srinivas, Smita, 2007. "Urban labour markets in the 21st century: dualism, regulation and the role(s) of the State," MPRA Paper 53099, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Jean Jenkins, 2013. "Across Boundaries: The Global Challenges Facing Workers and Employment Research 50th Anniversary Special Issue," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 51(3), pages 623-643, September.
    11. Elias, Wafa & Benjamin, Julian & Shiftan, Yoram, 2015. "Gender differences in activity and travel behavior in the Arab world," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 19-27.

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