Women as a group have often been divided by a number of intersecting inequalities: class, race, ethnicity, caste. As individuals - often isolated in reproductive or other home-based work - their weapons of resistance have tended to be restricted to the traditional weapons of the weak: hidden subversions and individualised struggles. Organizing Women Workers in the Informal Ecomy explores the emergence of an alternative repertoire among women working in the growing informal sectors of the global South: the weapons of organization and mobilization. This crucial book offers vibrant accounts of how women working as farm workers, sex workers, domestic workers, waste pickers, fisheries workers and migrant factory workers have organized for collective action. What gives these precarious workers the impetus and courage to take up these steps? What resources do they draw on in order to transcend their structurally disadvantaged position within the ecomy? And what continues to hamper their efforts to gain social recognition for themselves as women, as workers and as citizens? With first-hand accounts from authors closely involved in emerging organizations, this collection documents how women workers have come together to carve out new identities for themselves, define what matters to them, and develop collective strategies of resistance and struggle.
Naila Kabeer is Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. She has extensive experience in research, teaching and advisory work on gender, poverty, labour markets, livelihoods, social protection and grassroots citizenship. Her publications include Reversed Realities: Gender hierarchies in Development Thought; The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labour Market Decisions in London and Dhaka; and more recently, Gender and Social Protection in the Informal Economy. She has also edited a number of books, including Inclusive Citizenship: Meanings and Expressions and Institutions, Relations and Outcomes: Methodologies for Planning and Case Studies from the Indian Context, both published by Zed Books. Ratna Sudarshan is Advisor (Research and Projects) at the Institute of Social Studies Trust, New Delhi, where she was Director from 2003 to 2011. She has researched and published on women in the informal economy, with a special focus on home-based work, social protection and local economic development; gender and education; research and policy linkage; and gender and evaluation. Other recent publications include a co-edited special issue (on 'Evaluating gender and equity') of the Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 19, 2 (June 2012). Kirsty Milward founded and co-manages Suchana Uttor Chandipur Society, an organization offering education focused on social and gender equality amongst the Adivasi communities where she lives in West Bengal, India. She is also a freelance consultant providing writing, editing and evaluation services and specializing in gender and rural development. She has a particular interest in various organizational formations inspiring action to advance social and economic equality. Kirsty has an MA in gender and development from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.