The vast majority of the world's working women, particularly those from low-income households in developing countries, are located in the informal ecomy in activities that are casual, poorly paid, irregular and outside the remit of formal social security and protective legislation. This book examines the constraints and barriers which continue to confine women to these forms of work and what this implies for their ability to provide for themselves and their families and to cope with insecurity. It develops a framework of analysis that integrates gender, life course and livelihoods perspectives in order to explore the interactions between gender inequality, household poverty and labour market forces that help to produce gender-differentiated experiences of risk and vulnerability for the working poor. Drawing on practical experiences from the field, It uses this framework to demonstrate the relevance of a gender-analytical approach to the design and evaluation of a range of social protection measures that are relevant to women at different stages of their life course. These include conditional and unconditional social transfers to reduce child labour and promote children's education, child care support for working women, financial services for the poor, employment generation through public works and different measures for old age security. The book stresses the importance of an organised voice for working women if they are to ensure that employers, trade unions and governments respond to their need for socio-ecomic security. Finally, the book synthesises the main lessons that emerge from the discussion and the linkages between social protection strategies and the broader macro-ecomic framework. A book that will be of interest to a wide range of readers-those in the fields of ecomics, sociology and gender studies, as also activists and policy-makers.
Naila Kabeer is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK.