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Gender and Export Manufacturing in the Philippines: continuity or change in female employment? The case of the Mactan Export Processing Zone

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This paper explores the bases of gendered recruitment and occupational segmentation in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ), the Philippines. It examines the extent to which patterns of demand for specific types of female labour (in terms of age, marital status, education and so on) mirror those in EPZs in other parts of the developing world. Two important (and interrelated) variations in Mactan are the desire amongst employers to foster long-term loyalty among their workers, and the acceptance of married women with children in rank-and-file positions (if not in initial recruitment, at least once workers are in post). While not unknown in other countries, the relative distinctiveness of these patterns underlines the need to explore the diversity in export manufacturing operations in terms of the geographical origins of parent companies, the proximity of offshore sites to transnational corporation (TNC) headquarters, the type of items manufactured and the nature of production processes (including degrees of mechanisation and whether goods are subject to partial or complete assembly), relative wage levels in developing countries, and the specificity of gender roles and relations in different localities. Recognising that gender inequalities underpin female recruitment in export factories in Mactan, the article also explores how involvement in this work reaffirms and/or modifies disadvantage in the context of women's personal, home and working lives.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1995

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