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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Female Labour in the Textile and Clothing Industry of Lesotho
Authors:Baylies, Carolyn L.ISNI
Wright, Caroline
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Lesotho
Subjects:women's employment
textile industry
clothing industry
Labor and Employment
Women's Issues
Development and Technology
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/723239
Abstract:This article examines the clothing and textile industry in Lesotho and the conditions of labour within it on the basis of fieldwork carried out in the spring of 1991. The rapid growth of the industry is documented, and its reliance on female labour working for low wages examined in the light of other studies from around the world. The sector is characterized by largely foreign ownership, with investment coming most significantly from the Far East and South Africa. It is argued that female labour is cheapened by employer and societal ideologies about women's role, coupled with the willingness of women to work in spite of poor returns. Although willing workers by virtue of economic necessity, however, a review of union organization and activity indicates that women workers are far from docile, as demonstrated during disturbances in May 1991, which left 38 people dead and led to a curfew being imposed and heavily armed paramilitary units being brought into Maseru. Foreign entrepreneurs were an explicit target during the disturbances, but a more implicit focus for anger was the successive governments which have ruled illegitimately and monopolized privilege and wealth. This leads to the conclusion that a fundamental review of Lesotho's export driven industrialization strategy is needed. Notes, ref.