Women in Paid Work: A Continuum of Choices and Constraints

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


This study aims to explore the impact of paid work in the Ethiopian export-oriented garment industry on women’s empowerment, as perceived by the women themselves. The study first explores the reasons for why and how women pursue paid work in the industry. It further examines the ways in which paid work might affect women’s intra-household decision-making. By focusing on the experiences among various women of different social positions, the study also examines its effects on women’s agency and well-being.
The analysis is based on the use of a qualitative case study, which includes individual interviews, focus group discussions, and pile-sorting activities undertaken with women working in an export-oriented garment factory in Bole Lemi Industrial Park, Addis Ababa. The findings reveal that experiences of working in the garment industry differ depending on women’s social position or background. Despite often being driven by economic necessity, paid work in the export-oriented garment industry can induce a sense of freedom and independence for some women. However, it is associated with hardship, negative agency and time poverty for women who are married or have children to support. It appears that heavily engrained gendered institutions play a role in shaping women’s experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Human Geography
  • Andersson, Agnes, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018 Jun

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Gender Studies

Free keywords

  • Women
  • Paid work
  • Garment industry
  • Decision-making
  • Agency
  • Well-being
  • Ethiopia
  • Empowerment


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