This paper represents a collective contribution to an ongoing debate on the benefits and disadvantages of export-based, industrial jobs for women as well as on the implications of global labor standards on these types of jobs. On the basis of extensive research on women in Mexico’s and Central America’s maquiladoras (assembly plants that produce export goods), this paper aims to problematize the viewpoints that present export-based, industrial jobs as dignified alternatives for women in the South and to question the skepticism about global labor standards as a possible alternative for improving work conditions in all sectors producing for export. In so doing, the paper stresses three interrelated issues: a) the relevance of local and regional contexts that inform diverse industrialization paths over time, b) the agency the women workers represent, and c) the legal instruments already existent in our common efforts to improve working conditions.

Export-oriented growth, globalization, labor standards, maquiladoras, women’s labor force participation
Labor Standards: National and International (jel J8), Working Conditions (jel J81), Latin America; Caribbean (jel N76)
dx.doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2010.530603, hdl.handle.net/1765/22325
ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Feminist Economics
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Domínguez, E, Icaza Garza, R.A, Quintero, C, López, S, & Stenman, A. (2010). Women Workers in the Maquiladoras and the Debate on Global Labor Standards. Feminist Economics, 16(4), 185–209. doi:10.1080/13545701.2010.530603