NAVIGATING GENDERED SPACE: THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF LABOUR MARKETS IN PAKISTAN
Globalization has transformed labour markets around the world leading to an upsurge of women in the waged workforce and establishing them as the backbone of manufacturing industry. But globalizing forces are uneven and have disparate impacts. I explore why an influx of women workers is not found in some, more traditional, societies. I explore linkages between social, economic and political processes and fundamentals of inclusion and exclusion within spaces and places.
Women's absence from industrial settings in Pakistan corresponds to an institutionally licensed general deficiency of women in the formal workforce. Pakistan’s labour market is deeply segmented and distinct tiers bifurcate the secondary segment. All skills, even those like stitching that globally are presumed “women’s work”, are given male attributes. Women are considered incapable of performing skills equal to men, raising barriers of entry even within the secondary segment. Homeworking women, who engage in industrial waged-work, operate in a monopsony. Capital exploits labour market monopsonies and deepens women’s precarious positions.
Gender prohibitive forces of this society manifest in women’s scarcity in industrial settings. I explore forces and processes of inclusion and exclusion that construct gender prohibitive space. Examining the nature of inclusion and exclusion can reveal particular societal hierarchies in place, indicate which traditions and beliefs have institutional sanction and are held valuable, and which may be displaced over time. The gendering of spaces - in the home, streets, transportation, factories - is a vital feature constraining women's position in the workforce. I assess how different forces of discrimination including mind-body dualism manifested as public-private space interact and intersect to impact women’s navigation of spaces. I examine mobility as a pursued rather than assured “good” - an enabling factor that allows those that have mobility, economic and social advancement.