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Genevieve LeBaron

This chapter explores the links between gender and unfree labour – including those forms often referred to as forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery – in the global economy. It argues that although significant media, policy and scholarly attention have focused on the trafficking of women and girls and their exploitation within the sex, domestic and care industries, there has been a tendency to overlook women’s exploitation within ‘productive’ industry, including agriculture, electronics, garments and fisheries. This depiction has led to a skewed understanding of women’s vulnerability to unfree labour, as well as its causes and solutions. Building on V. Spike Peterson’s insight that our theoretical conceptualizations of ‘gender’ in political economy matter, the author argues that in addition to stronger and different empirics, deeper theoretical thinking is necessary to make meaningful progress towards understanding gender and unfree labour in International Political Economy.