1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Women's Employment in the Textile Manufacturing Sectors of Bangladesh and Morocco

Chapter 1: Introduction, by Shahra Razavi and Jessica Vivian

The chapters in this volume shed light on various facets of women’s experiences in export manufacturing in Morocco and Bangladesh, focusing primarily on garment manufacturing, which in both countries is the most highly female-dominated manufacturing sector. The countries within which the research was carried out, Morocco and Bangladesh, share some similarities, although their development trajectory has clearly been very different in recent years. Their macroeconomic structures are similar, with Morocco being somewhat more industrialized. The adult female literacy rate is low in both countries, and is also substantially lower than that of men — a pattern that not only indicates constraints on women’s opportunities, but that also suggests pervasive discrimination against females. The economies of the two countries are of similar size, although per capita income is much lower for Bangladesh. The most important difference for the discussion that follows is that Morocco established an industrial sector relatively early, and its growth has been slow, while the industrial and particularly the export sector of Bangladesh has seen exponential growth over the last 20 years. As will become clear below, as a result the process and terms under which female labour has been incorporated in the manufacturing sector has been very different in the two countries, with important implications for the social transformational potential of female wage employment.

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