Globalisation, Gender and Work in the Context of Economic Transition: The Case of Vietnam


Kabeer, Naila, and Tran Thi Van Anh. 2006. “Globalisation, Gender and Work in the Context of Economic Transition: The Case of Vietnam.” Working Paper 06-3, The International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics, Salt Lake City, UT.

Authors: Naila Kabeer, Tran Thi Van Anh


This paper is concerned with the gender and poverty implications of globalisation in the context of the transition to the market economy in Vietnam. As elsewhere, the export oriented garment industry in Vietnam is a major source of employment for women. Women are also actively engaged in the domestic market, both in the formal state and private sector as well as in the informal economy. The paper uses survey data to compare the characteristics, conditions and preferences of women workers working for global and local markets in order to ascertain who they are, how they might differ and what their jobs mean to them. It finds that garment workers tended to form a distinct category of workers – young, single, with at least secondary education who have recently migrated from the country side. Women working for the local economy were far more heterogeneous and included older residents of the city with high levels of education working for the state as well as a more mixed group of women working in private wage and self employment. The findings suggest that entry into garment work represents an aspect of the diversification strategies of rural households for some women while for others, it constitutes the attempt to become more self-reliant. A higher percentage of garment workers expressed a preference for alternative forms of work than non-garment workers, a reflection of their long hours of work and exploitative working conditions. While public sector employees outside the garment sector expressed the highest levels of satisfaction with their jobs, this was not an option open to all. Instead, young women migrating from the countryside saw garment employment as an opportunity to save and take up self-employment. The paper concludes that until rural unemployment is tackled and alternative jobs made available, a female labour supply will continue to be available for the garment industry, regardless of the conditions which prevail in them. 

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Globalization, Livelihoods, Political Economies Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Vietnam

Year: 2006

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