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Research Articles

Female workers in textile and garment sectors in Sri Lankan Export Processing Zones (EPZs): gender dimensions and working conditions

Authors:

Peter Hancock,

Edith Cowan University, AU
About Peter
From the School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
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Geoff Carastathis,

Edith Cowan University, AU
About Geoff
From the School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
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Jonathan Georgiou ,

Edith Cowan University, AU
About Jonathan
From the School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
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Max Oliveira

Edith Cowan University, AU
About Max
From the School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
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Abstract

Sri Lankan women who are employed in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) work in a range of factories. A crosssection of female EPZ workers (n = 2304) representing 6 EPZs were surveyed as part of this study, with the majority in the textile and garment industry. Largely qualitative or small-scale research has demonstrated that textile and garment workers are often subject to poor social respect, derogatory comments and exposed to harsh or poor working conditions. Of particular interest was exploring in greater detail whether there were any quantifiably significant work-related or societal differences between female EPZ workers in textile and garment factories (n = 1878), compared to those employed in ‘other’ factory types (n = 426). Measuring ‘objective’ work conditions, Mann- Whitney U tests demonstrated significantly lower earnings and savings among textile and garment workers compared to those who worked in ‘other’ factories. Pearson’s chi-square test of contingencies revealed that although reports of abuse and harassment were generally low, textile and garment workers were more likely to experience verbal abuse. Regardless of such negativity, the majority of women within this study reported high rates of empowerment as a result of their experiences working in EPZs – largely irrespective of factory type. These statistical findings suggested that the different ‘objective’ workplace experiences (and to some extent, ‘subjective’ treatment) of female EPZ workers across textile and garment and ‘other’ factory types, may have little to do with their overall sense of personal achievement or inclusion, feeling empowered as a result of having been engaged in work.

 

Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences 2015 38(1): 63-77

How to Cite: Hancock, P. et al., (2016). Female workers in textile and garment sectors in Sri Lankan Export Processing Zones (EPZs): gender dimensions and working conditions. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences. 38(1), pp.63–77. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v38i1.7386
Published on 03 Feb 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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