International Development Planning Review

Women's home-centred work in India: The gendered politics of space

International Development Planning Review (2007), 29, (3), 271–298.

Abstract

The increase in poorly paid home-centred work has become a global phenomenon. In India, social restrictions on women's spatial mobility reduce their job options and make home-centred work one of the few viable income-earning alternatives for women from low-income groups. At the same time research illustrates the importance of the interplay between spatial relations and social action/political mobilisation. This article examines the role of socio-spatial relations in explaining the exploitative nature of women's home-centred work through the qualitative case study of three low-income settlements in Kolkata, India. The study illustrates that the most spatially restrictive type of home-centred work, piece-rated work, is also the least remunerated and affords almost no empowerment potential. Based on the findings, the article calls for a multi-pronged intervention strategy at the neighbourhood level to improve the living conditions of home-centred workers, expand their job prospects, and provide opportunities for long-term empowerment.

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Bose, Mallika