Empowerment in the Garment Industry : A Study on Home-Based Workers in Delhi, India

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: India is becoming one of the biggest garment producers in the world and at the bottom of the industry women can often be found working from their homes because of norms restricting them what to do and where to go. These women often work under middlemen who take advantage of their disempowerment. The well-known Indian trade union/social movement the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) established its producer-company Ruaab to eliminate the middleman and link the home-based workers directly with the fashion companies. This study investigates in what ways the women’s participation in the producer-company Ruaab impact their empowerment process. It is based on a two-month long field study in Delhi, India in which interviews were conducted with women working at three of Ruaab’s centers. Drawing on Mosedale’s definition and Rowland’s analytical framework, the thesis looks at if the women are empowered in three different dimensions: personal, close relations and collective. The results show no clear patterns of empowerment but that SEWA’s work improves many aspects of the women’s life, and that their work should be considered an enhancing part in the women’s empowerment process.

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