Chapter 5: Women workers during global value chain disruptions
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The expansion of global value chains (GVCs) in developing countries has provided a significant source of employment for women. Yet the distribution of gains from GVC participation is marked by gender inequalities. Significant gaps remain between women and male workers in accessing decent wages, working conditions, employment stability, opportunities for skill development and career advancement. Women comprise a large share of vulnerable workers in low value-added sectors and lower-skilled functions which tend to be impacted hardest during periods of turbulence and disruption. Moreover, research evidence indicates that productive upgrading is often accompanied by a defeminization of the labour force in higher-skilled functions. This chapter examines various structural and systemic factors that inhibit improved opportunities for women workers in the context of recent GVC disruptions and proposes means of action fostering greater benefits for women workers, such as by providing broader opportunities for skills development, paths for overcoming occupational segregation, career and professional growth leading to improved earnings and strengthening agency. Findings of this chapter also point toward the need for further policy-oriented research that applies a deliberate gender lens to identify hurdles for women workers and thereby promote gender transformative policies that can promote more gender equitable outcomes in GVCs.

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