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Making the Woman WorkerPrecarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919-2019$
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Eileen Boris

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190874629

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190874629.001.0001

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(p.89) 3 Development
Making the Woman Worker

Eileen Boris

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the construction of a category within a category, “women in developing countries,” whose difference from the Western norm defined the severity of woman’s oppression and made her into the other of the woman worker. In the early post-WWII years, the ILO juggled a commitment to equality with designation of Third World women as the most needy of distinct programs. It promoted handicraft despite the resemblance of such labor to exploitative industrial home work. When addressing Women Workers in a Changing World in 1964, the ILO separated the situation of women in developing countries, whose income generation could be integrated into home labor, from women in industrialized regions whose family responsibilities interfered with their labor force participation. At the 1975 UN World Conference on Women, the meaning of development, like that of equality, was up for grabs in the ideological contest between state socialist and newly independent states against the former colonial states and market economies. ILO opposition to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) intertwined with its attempt to provide Third World women with substantive equality.

Keywords:   development, developing countries, handicraft, industrial home work, Women Workers in a Changing World, UN Conference on Women, CEDAW, women workers, discrimination against women, Third World women

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