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Year: 2013 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

This book attempts to synthesize the experiences of organizing hard-to-teach working women in the informal economy and draw out their lessons. The chapters deal with examples of organisations that are working with this category of women workers in order to draw out both common patterns and unique responses to particular circumstances, and thus deepen our understanding of some of the collective pathways to change that might be relevant for different groups of working women in different sectors of the economy. In this introduction, the authors draw out some key themes from the chapters in order to address some key questions. What gave these precarious workers the impetus and courage to organize? What were the main obstacles faced by their organisations in efforts to address what Nancy Fraser calls the injustices of redistribution, recognition and representation? These relate to the unfairness of the economic system and the exploitative relations of work that it generates; the denial of respect and dignity to certain groups of workers on the basis of their identity and the work they do; and the absence of an organized voice that can articulate their needs and rights as women, as workers and as citizens. In addition, they are interested in what is distinctive about the strategies they drew on in order to transcend the structurally disadvantaged position of women workers within the economy. Through the analysis of the obstacles faced by organisations in different contexts and for different groups of workers and the strategies used to overcome them, the authors begin to discern the emergence of a different repertoire of weapons among these working women to those they previously relied on: the weapons of the organized.

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