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【FINDAS】 2016 FINDAS International Workshop “Women’s Work in South Asia in the Age of Neo-liberalism”

January 8 @ 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

【Date】 January 8 (Sun), 2017

【Time】 10:00~17:00

【Venue】 Large Conference Room 303, ILCAA, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies



Campus map (ILCAA is building no.6 on this map)







Welcome Address:     Toshie Awaya (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) 


1     Misako Kanno (Tokyo University of Social Welfare)
Dynamics of Working Housewives in Contemporary Rural Uttar Pradesh
2     Rie Kage (Saga Women’s Junior College)
Causes and Consequences of Return Migration in Sri Lanka: A Case Study of Female Unskilled Migrant Workers
3     Seika SATO (Teikyo University)
‘Self-employed’ Workers in the Age of Neoliberalism: Men and Women Street Vendors in Kathmandu


Lunch (12:10-13:10) 


4     Neetha N. (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
Nuances and Overtones of Paid Domestic Work in India
5     Dina M Siddiqi (BRAC University)
Unions or NGOs? Organizing Labor under the Neoliberal Gaze
6     Nida Kirmani (Lahore University of Management Sciences)
Earning as Empowerment?: The Relationship between Paid-Work and Violence in Lyari, Karachi


Tea Break (15:10-15:30) 


Discussant: Hanako Nagata (Ibaraki University)
Momoe Makino (The Institute of Developing Economies) 



General Discussion



【Language】 English

【Contact】 FINDAS office(findas_office@tufs.ac.jp

 (This event is free of charge and all are welcome.)





1) Dynamics of Working Housewives in Contemporary Rural Uttar Pradesh

 Misako Kanno (Tokyo University of Social Welfare)

In the 1980s, Mies’s classical work on ‘housewifization of labour’ had caused an impact in the discussion of developmental issues regarding gender and the labour force. The situation of the female labour force has not changed drastically ever since, and in contemporary India, it has worsened in some cases.

Nevertheless, employment opportunities for women from particular classes have been continuously increasing since the 1990s in rural Uttar Pradesh. As a substantial number of households in this area are under the poverty line, the state government provides them with several social services, including information regarding reproductive health, non-formal education and micro credit; therefore, a large number of middle-class women who have completed higher education have been employed as health workers, teachers and social workers.

Although it is some sort of opportunities for women who are mostly excluded from the market economy due to sociocultural restrictions in order to gain income for their daily expenses, its compensation seems to be rather unfair for their labour force. In other words, housewives are being targeted for the role of servants in the smallest units of administrative organizations and are being paid low wages. Thus, this situation requires us to question whether participating in public society and improving their economic status is indeed a good opportunity for women or is it just another type of ‘housewifization’ of government services?

This study examines the socioeconomic status of rural middle-class women while locating them in the labour market by analysing ethnographical data.


2) Causes and Consequences of Return Migration in Sri Lanka: A Case Study of Female Unskilled Migrant Workers

 Rie Kage (Saga Women’s Junior College)

Migration has been embedded in the society and economy of Sri Lanka; since the government institutionalized foreign employment policy in the 1980s.  Destinations for foreign employment are highly concentrated in the Middle East region.  The number of females seeking employment abroad had exceeded the number of males for two decades between 1988 and 2007.  From that time to the present, more than eighty per cent of female migrants have departed Sri Lanka to engage as domestic workers abroad.  In general, domestic workers are not often given a clear definition of contract.  Thus, they are a highly vulnerable migrant group in their host countries.  While in the country of origin, issues of family breakup and negative impact on the development of children have been reported.  Particularly in the case of migrant mothers with small children, the probability of social costs is high.  The government of Sri Lanka has attempted to minimize such costs and to reduce migration of female domestic workers, banning migration of mothers with children below the age of five, and setting a minimum age requirement of 21-years for foreign employment.  As a consequence, recent statistics show a decreasing trend in the departure number of female domestic workers.  This study examines the return migration of female unskilled migrant workers to Sri Lanka, analysing the causes and consequences of their returns, using data collected through the hearing survey from female returnees in 2007-2009, 2014, and 2016.  The survey found that the views of Sri Lankan female workers on their migration changed correlating to changes in Sri Lankan migration policy and changing situations and structures in the societies and economies of Sri Lanka and the destination countries.


3) ‘Self-employed’ Workers in the Age of Neoliberalism: Men and Women Street Vendors in Kathmandu

Seika SATO Teikyo University)

Street vendors have been argued by many as quintessential actors in informal economy, that seems to be commanding more rather than less part of the whole economy under its sway at this stage of neoliberal capitalism. With the shrinking share of formal employment worldwide, now street vendors might be regarded as a quintessential figure of non-elite / ordinary men and women’s work and lives in this era as a whole. This paper tries to shed light on the figure through the local case of contemporary Kathmandu, with special attention to their gendered aspects. What kind of work is it to street-vend on the streets of Kathmandu?  How do they live and what do they aspire to achieve? What kind of difficulties do they face doing this job and what benefits do they enjoy if any? What are their experiences of doing this business like, and where are they going, either as an occupational group or as an individual working man or woman?

By addressing these queries, extremely diversified and not easily commensurable realities that these individual street vendors live out will be revealed. These ‘self-employed’ workers are far from uniform and thus shared issues or agendas for the betterment of their work lives turns out to be difficult to be agreed upon. These men or women come to, stay on, and leave the streets mainly on their own – their collectivity or solidarity, and thus their rights, benefits, or community largely remains to be realized at the moment.


4) Nuances and Overtones of Paid Domestic Work in India

Neetha N. (Centre for Women’s Development Studies)

Though domestic work is not a new phenomenon in India, what one understands as paid domestic work today is not an extension of the earlier feudal based system where the rich and dominant class had ‘servants’. In the new system of paid domestic service which is prevalent across urban and rural contexts, the nature of work, workers and work relations have changed rapidly, though one may see extensions of feudal practices in the everyday organization of modern system of domestic work. Estimates of the number of paid domestic workers in India, whatever be the source of data, have shown a huge increase over the last decade with a clear trend towards feminisation. Domestic work is characterised by invisibility, multiplicity of employers, poor wages and working conditions. Though the sector has emerged as an important sector of women’s employment, it remains as a highly unregulated sector. However, there have been some significant legal interventions which are sporadic and scattered. Organising domestic workers has been an issue given the specificity of the employment relation and the profile of workers. Only a small fraction of domestic workers in the country are unionised. However, there have been efforts to collectivise domestic workers which has gained momentum recently after the ILO convention on domestic workers. The paper provides an overview of the workers and work relations in the sector apart from analysing the regulatory status and organisational developments. The paper highlights some of the challenges in paid domestic work, through a critical analysis of policy interventions and mobilisation initiatives, with due focus on the underlying processes in the sector.


5) Unions or NGOs? Organizing Labor under the Neoliberal Gaze

 Dina M SiddiqiBRAC University

This paper complicates the understanding of Rana Plaza as a moment of rupture by situating the much heralded “new trade unionism” within a longer history of labor activism in Bangladesh.  The implicitly modernist narrative arc that structures mainstream accounts of the post Rana Plaza period — of individual ‘tragedy’ in the global South that spurs legal reform and improved oversight through the application of external/Northern pressure — obscures critical ground realities.  The persuasive power of this narrative depends upon the active forgetting of the past in which workers have secured meaningful change only after embarking on direct action through often violent street politics.  In this account, the absence of the modern worker who knows and demands her rights signals the failure of the elite/state/NGOs to produce a culture of liberalism in which such subjectivities seemingly flourish (see Vijay Prashad 2015).  Recalling a mode of developmentalism rooted in colonial hierarchies, this construction not only displaces structural inequalities and barriers. It erases the agency of Bangladeshi garment workers and their rich history of resistance. Through a close reading of a workers’ uprising in May 2006 that resulted in significant gains for labour, I suggest that fundamental contradictions and constraints remain untouched by the kind of reforms made after 2013. It is equally critical to situate the new international recognition of the need for unions to ensure workers rights in shifting ideologies of neoliberal governance.


6) Earning as Empowerment?: The Relationship between Paid-Work and Violence in Lyari, Karachi

 Nida Kirmani (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

Based on extensive interviews in one of Karachi’s oldest working class areas, Lyari, this paper explores the relationship between women’s engagement in paid work and their relationship to violence in multiple settings including in the home, in public places, and at the workplace. The research includes interviews with women engaged in domestic service, in the education public and private education sector, in the field of health, in the service sector and in short-term and seasonal work in factories or small-scale industries. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of engagement in paid work with women’s ability to negotiate and resist various forms of violence including physical, psychological and structural forms of violence. The findings demonstrate that engagement in paid work does not necessarily insulate women from violence, but it often does provide women with a strengthened ‘bargaining position’ within the household. However, this depends on the nature and conditions of the work itself. Women in low-paid, informal and precarious forms of employment, which are characteristic of the neoliberal economy, do not necessarily experience a strengthened position within the household and neither are they insulated from domestic violence. Rather they face multiple forms of violence and are often exploited in their places of employment and within their homes. On the other hand, the few women who are able to secure well-paying, secure forms of employment appear to be more confident and more willing to stand up against violence if confronted.


January 8
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Event Category:


Large Conference Room 303, ILCAA, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies