‘Globalisation, gender and work in the context of transition: the case of Vietnam’

(with Tran Thi Van Anh)

UNDP VIET NAM POLICY DIALOGUE PAPER 2006/2

This paper is concerned with the gender and poverty implications of globalisation in the context of Viet Nam. There is a growing literature on these linkages as they play out in countries that are moving or have moved from more to less regulated market economies. What is different about the Vietnamese context is that its greater integration into the global economy is occurring as one aspect of a far more fundamental change in policy regime: the transition from a centralised command economy dominated by the state in all spheres of social and economic life to one in which there is a greater emphasis on market forces internally and externally.  As elsewhere, the export-oriented garment industry in Viet Nam is a major source of employment for women. Women are also actively engage in the domestic market in the state and private sectors and in the informal economy. The paper uses survey data to compare the characteristics, conditions and preferences of women working for global and local markets in order to ascertain who they are, how they might differ and what their jobs means to them.   The paper concludes that until rural unemployment and underemployment is reduced and alternative jobs become available, female labour will continue to crowd into the garment industry regardless of working conditions and wages.

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