Women In The Worlds Of Labour – Mary E. John & Meena Gopal


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India has one of the world’s lowest work participation rates for women—an issue that is only belatedly receiving the attention it needs, whether from women’s and other social movements, the agendas of development and the State, or from the public and media at large. This timely volume addresses the multiple worlds of women’s labour in the context of the current crisis besetting women’s work in contemporary India.

How, in India, is work defined and recognised in the first place when the so-called formal sector of employment pertains to less than 6 per cent of the female workforce? What are the theoretical legacies that require greater engagement—from paid and unpaid work, conceptions of care and social reproduction, the nature of capitalism, to notions of caste, class and sexuality—in order to make women’s work and struggles more legible?

Intersectional in orientation, the volume highlights issues that often get lost in many mainstream analyses of labour, including those of Dalit women, women in subsistence agriculture, migrant women, queer women, and women with disabilities. The editors believe that women’s work—normative or otherwise—must be acknowledged in all its diversity. Chapters focus on courtesans, domestic workers in West Asia, women in the beedi industry, SEZ factory girls, stigmatised transpersons, construction workers who may also engage in sex work, teachers, Madhubani artists, anganwadi workers, women in trade unions and self-help groups—to provide critical, insightful accounts of how India is failing its labouring women.

Students and researchers in the fields of women’s studies, gender studies, sociology, development studies, and development economics would find this book an invaluable reference and guide.


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