The Agreement on Textiles and Clothing: Potential Effects on Gender Equality in Pakistan
Abstract The government has realized that the textile and clothing sector is one sector that offers good prospects for diversification away from traditional commodity exports, for entry into the area of manufacturers, for absorption of large pools of manpower, for crossing the big divide between the rural and urban sectors, for poverty alleviation, and for gender empowerment.” (Ministry of Finance, 2003, emphasis added) In 2005, the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) will give way to more liberalised global trade in textiles and clothing (T&C). The T&C industry is Pakistan’s major export engine. It also is a major employer of female workers. In the context of the social seclusion of women in Pakistan, the strong representation of women in the T&C industry makes the ATC implementation a gender equality issue. So far, the labour market implications of the change in the trade regime in general and its effects on gendered access to employment, in particular, have been neglected completely. The paper highlights the potential impact of the phase out of the textile quota regime on gendered employment in Pakistan.