Gender, work and Development

Home/ Gender, work and Development
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA2

Course Coordinator and Team: Professor Deepita Chakravarty

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None


This course explores the field of Gender and Work, relating to sexual division of labour and women’s work in the development process. Family plays an important role in determining the basics of sexual division of labour in a given cultural setup. The theoretical backbone of the course is therefore based on the conceptualization of family from different paradigms of thought. The course then explores the historical evolution of women’s paid work outside the home in the context of early modern Europe to industrial revolution and the advent of capitalism. In this context the course then looks at the question of women’s work in the developing countries in the recent days with a focus on India. Finally, the course ends with questioning why paid work may not be sufficient to enhance agency of women in the family and also in the society at large and brings in the question of women and property rights. A special focus has been given to understanding the inadequacy and shortcomings of published data in order to estimate women’s workforce participation in the developing countries

Learning Objectives

The course is intended for students who are interested in understanding and reflecting on the role of gender in the world of work (both paid and un-paid) and the question of development


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module I: Discrimination against women and family

Missing women- Understanding discrimination against women: Some recent analytical debates related to sex ratio: the roles of family, society, economy and government policies

Conceptualization of family as the major player in executing discrimination against women with a focus on labour market outcomes: the neo-classical paradigm, The Marxist and Marxist –feminist paradigm , the bargaining models

Empirical discussions and controversy

Module 2: Women’s work: Empirical issues

Women’s work in early modern Europe, to Industrial revolution and the advent of capitalism

Women’s labour market behavior in contemporary developing world/ India: Is there any similarity in the labour market experiences by the contemporary developing country women and the women who first came out of home for wage work in Europe?

The role of family in explaining the labour market outcome of women

The concepts used and the shortcomings of published data in India to enumerate women’s gainful activities in terms of work participation rates

Module 3. Women and property rights

Some readings have been suggested below. But more readings will be suggested during teaching.

Reading List:

  • Agarwal, Bina, A field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • _____________, “Social Security and the Family: Coping with Seasonality and Calamity in RuralIndia”, Journal of Peasant Studies, 1990, 17: 341-412.
  • _____________, “Bargaining” and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household”, Feminist Economics, 1997, 3(1): 1-51.
  • _____________, “Engaging with Sen on Gender Relations”, in KaushikBasu and Ravi Kanbur, (eds.) 2009, Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honour of Amartya Sen, Volume II: Society, Institutions, and Development, pp. 157-177, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Banerjee, Nirmala, “Working Women in Colonial Bengal: Modernization and Marginalization” in KumkumSangari et al. (eds.) 2006, Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History, New Delhi: Zubaan.
  • Becker, Gary S., A Treatise on the Family, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • Folbre, N., “Hearts and Spades: Paradigms of Household Economics”, World Development, 1986, 14(2): 245-255.
  • _________, “The Black Four of Hearts: Towards a New Paradigm of Household Economics”, in J Bruce and D. Dwyer, (eds.) 1988, A Home Divided, pp. 248-64. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • __________, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. New York, New Press, 2001.
  • __________, Sen, A.K., ‘Gender and Cooperative Conflicts’, in I Tinker, (ed.) 1990, Persistent Inequalities: Women and World Development, New York, Oxford University Press.
  • __________, Poverty and Famines, Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • __________, "More than 100 million women are missing", New York Review of Books, 1990,37 (20): 17-22.
  • Dreze, Jean and Amartya Sen, India Development and participation, Delhi, Oxford University Press: Chapter on gender, 2002.
  • Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, An Uncertain Glory India and its Contradictions, Penguin Books Limited, London: Chapters ,8, 2013.
  • Lourdes Beneria, ‘From “Harmony” to “Cooperative Conflicts”: Amartya Sen’s Contribution to Household Theory’, in K. Basu and R. Kanbur, (eds.) 2009,Arguments for a better World, Oxford University Press.
  • Rowbotham, Sheila, Hidden from History, 300 Years of Women’s Oppression and the Fight Against It, Pluto Press, 1975.
  • Kessler Harris, Alice, Gendering Labour History, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • Chant, Sylvia, “Households, gender and rural-urban migration: reflections on linkages and considerations for policy”, Environment and Urbanization, 1998, 10(1): 12.
  • Davidoff, Leonore and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and women of the English Middle Clss, 1780-1850,Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
  • Corbridge, S and J.HarrissandC. Jeffrey,India Today: Economy, Politics and Society, London, Polity: Chapter 13, 2012.
  • Sen, Samita, Women and labour in Late Colonial India, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Sen Samita, (2014) Economic and Political Weekly.
  • Chakravarty, Deepita, ‘Docile Oriental Women and the Organized Labour: A case of an Indian garment export park’, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 2007, Vol. 14, No.3: 439-460, Sage Publications, Los Angeles/ London/ New Delhi/ Singapore.
  • ChakravartyDeepita, IshitaChakravarty, Women, Labour and the Economy in India: From Migrant Butlers to Uprooted Maids, Routledge, London, UK. (Forthcoming, January, 2015).
  • Kabeer N and S Mahamood, ‘Globalization, Gender and Poverty: Bangladeshi Women Workers in Export and Local Markets’, Journal of International Development, 2004, Vol. 16(1).
  • KabeerN,The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labour Market Decisions in London and Dhaka, London, New York, Verso, 2000.
  • Lindhlom, Charles (1982): Generosity and Jealousy: The Swat Pukhtun of Northern PakistanColumbia University Press, New York, 1982.
  • Figart, D, ‘Gender as more than a dummy variable: Feminist approaches to Discrimination’,Review of Social Economy, 2005, Vol. LXIII (3).
  • Chari, Anurekha, “Gendered citizenship and women’s movement”, Economic and Political Weekly, 2009,44 (17): 47-57.
  • Chen, Marty, (ed.) (1998), Widows in India: social neglect and public action, New Delhi: Sage.
  • Towards Equality Report: Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, Government of India, 1974
  • Women Work and Development Series: ILO, Geneva.


Paper presentation 30 per cent, term paper, 30 per cent and a written test consisting of 40 percent at the end of the semester