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Women Workers in the Maquiladoras and the debate on Global Labor Standards

Journal article
Authors Edmé Domínguez Reyes
Rosalba Icaza
Cirila Quintero
Silvia López
Åsa Stenman
Published in Feminist Economics
Volume 16
Issue 4
Pages 185-209
ISSN 1354-5701
Publication year 2010
Published at School of Global Studies
School of Global Studies, The Ibero-American Institute
Pages 185-209
Language en
Keywords export oriented growth, women's labor force participation, globalization, labor standards, maquiladoras
Subject categories Social and Economic Geography, Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies), Sociology, Economics and Business


This paper represents a collective contribution to an ongoing debate on the benefits and disadvantages of export-based industrial jobs for women as well as on the implications of global labor standards for these types of jobs. On the basis of extensive research on women in Mexico’s and Central America’s maquiladoras (assembly plants that produce export goods), this paper aims to problematize the viewpoints that present export-based industry jobs as dignified alternatives for women in the South and to question the skepticism about global labor standards as a possible alternative for improving work conditions in all sectors producing for export. In so doing, the paper stresses three interrelated issues: a) the relevance of local and regional contexts that inform diverse industrialization paths over time, b) the agency the women workers represent, and c) the legal instruments already existent in our common efforts to improve working conditions.

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