Women Empowerment

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Women’s Empowerment Revisited:
From Individual to Collective Power
among the Export Sector Workers
of Bangladesh
Naomi Hossain
March 2012
IDS WORKING PAPER
Volume 2012 No 389
2
The Poverty and Inequality research cluster, part of the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team at IDS, produces research on poverty, inequality and wellbeing. Our research challenges orthodox views on the nature of poverty, how poverty is understood and how policy can best accelerate poverty reduction. Our work focuses on poverty and wellbeing through the lens of equity and inequality. Poverty is not only about 'poor' people but also about the social and economic inequalities that compound and reproduce poverty. Email: poverty@ids.ac.uk

Web: www.ids.ac.uk/research-teams/vulnerability-and-poverty-reduction-team/researchthemes/ poverty-inequality-and-wellbeing
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The Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) Team aims to construct dynamic and multidimensional perspectives on vulnerability and poverty in order to transform thinking, policy and practice.
The VPR team produces working papers on social protection; conflict, violence and development; and poverty and inequality. Follow this link to view a full list of publications: www.ids.ac.uk/go/research-teams/vulnerability-and-poverty-reduction-team Women’s Empowerment Revisited: From Individual to Collective Power among the Export Sector Workers of Bangladesh Naomi Hossain

IDS Working Paper 389
First published by the Institute of Development Studies in March 2012 © Institute of Development Studies 2012
ISSN: 2040-0209 ISBN: 978-1-78118-046-4
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Women’s Empowerment Revisited: From Individual to Collective Power among the Export Sector Workers of Bangladesh
Naomi Hossain1
Summary
Bangladesh has become known as something of a success in advancing gender equality since the 1990s. There have been rapid gains in a number of social and economic domains, yet by most objective standards the current condition and status of women and girls within Bangladeshi society remain low. Rapid progress has come about under conditions of mass poverty and interlocking forms of social disadvantage, political instability and underdevelopment, overlain with persistent ‘classic’ forms of patriarchy. Mass employment of women and girls in the country’s flagship export sector – the readymade garments (RMG) sector – has been one of the more visible and prominent changes in women’s lives since its late 1970s’ introduction.

Whether and the extent to which RMG or garments employment has changed the lives of women workers for the better has been the subject of much debate, and the research and analysis it has generated offers valuable insights into the processes of economic and social empowerment for poor women in low income developing countries....
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