Women Workers: Is Equality Enough?

Judy Fudge

Abstract


This is the text of an Open Lecture delivered by Professor Judy Fudge at the University of Kent on 16 January 2013. By focusing on the patterns of change and continuity in women’s work the lecture traces the profound transformations in national and transnational labour markets that have been driven by global capitalism, while questioning the normative goal of women’s claims for equality in employment. The lecture aims to historicize the narrative of the expansion of the legal definition of equality and women’s employment – to recontexutalise and re-interpret this progressive narrative in light of changes in the labour market and political discourse. Women’s claims to equality in employment have become more nuanced and complex as the contours of the gender order have been redrawn to reflect the growing diversity between women and a deterioration in what has been the normative or standard employment relationship for men. Using Canada and the United Kingdom to illustrate the changes in the labour market and gender order, the lecture calls into question the potential of equality norms, however expansive, to solve the problems women workers face in the wake of global austerity.


Keywords


women's work; social reproduction; global capitalism; equality; austerity

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