What is the place of women in global labour policies?
Women’s ILO: Transnational Networks, Global Labour Standards, and Gender Equity, 1919 to Present gathers new research on a century of ILO engagement with women’s work. It asks: what was the role of women’s networks in shaping ILO policies and what were the gendered meanings of international labour law in a world of uneven and unequal development?
Women’s ILO explores issues like equal remuneration, home-based labour, and social welfare internationally and in places such as Argentina, Italy, and Ghana. It scrutinizes the impact of both power relations and global feminisms on the making of global labour policies in a world shaped by colonialism, the Cold War and post-colonial inequality. It further charts the disparate advancement of gender equity, highlighting the significant role of women experts and activists in the process.
Contributors are: Paula Lucía Aguilar, Lucia Artner, Eloisa Betti, Chris Bonner, Eileen Boris, Akua O. Britwum, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Dorothea Hoehtker, Pat Horn, Sonya Michel, Silke Neunsinger, Renana Jhabvala, Marieke Louis, Yevette Richards, Mahua Sarkar, Kirsten Scheiwe, Françoise Thébaud, Susan Zimmermann
“This is a must-read volume for scholars and students interested in women, labor and international/transnational history.” – Judy Tzu-Chun Wu,
University of California, Irvine, USA “This fascinating collection of essays assesses the ILO’s role in securing social justice for women workers around the world and asks how that role might change as the world of work is transformed in the next century.” — Celia Donert,
University of Liverpool “This exciting collection provides a long-overdue state of the art on gender politics and the ILO. It will no doubt be the work of reference on the topic for years to come.” – Elisabeth Prügl,
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
Eileen Boris, Ph.D. (Brown University, 1981) holds the Hull Chair of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The author or editor of twelve volumes, she writes on home labours and race, gender, and class in social politics.
Dorothea Hoehtker , Ph.D. (EHESS, Paris, 2003), is a historian and Senior Researcher at the ILO. She is co-editor, with Sandrine Kott, of
A la rencontre de l’Europe au travail. Récits de voyages d’Albert Thomas (1920–1932) (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne/ILO, 2015).
Susan Zimmermann, Ph.D. (Vienna University, 1993) is University Professor at Central European University. She has written on international labour and welfare policy, internationalism and global inequality, the history of women’s movements and women in mixed organizations.
"Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." - Elizabeth Faue, in:
CHOICE, 56:4 (2018)
"This collection provides a thorough overview of the shifting position of women – and of concerns about women’s work, gender equity, and gender policy – within the International Labor Organization (ILO) from 1919 to the present. [...] This is a comprehensive and rigorous discussion of women as both subjects and objects of the ILO. It will be valuable to anyone working on the history of international organizations, transnational activism, gender and labour activism, and/or the intersections between race, class, and gender in the twentieth century". Nicole Bourbonnais.
“This fascinating collection of essays assesses the ILO’s role in securing social justice for women workers around the world over the past hundred years, and asks how that role might change as the world of work is itself transformed in the next century. Essential reading for scholars and students interested in the history of labour, feminist activism, social rights and international organizations.” - Celia Donert,
University of Liverpool “This is an exciting collection that provides a long-overdue state of the art on gender politics and the ILO. It brings to life a feminist and historical perspective—broadening the consideration of women at the ILO to an exploration of gender politics, intersectionally weaving race, class, and coloniality into such politics, exploring the power of the ILO’s gender expertise to define new realities, recognizing the institutional conflicts between the ILO and the UN regarding gender politics during the Cold War, valorizing the power of women’s and feminist networks, bringing into view the translations of ILO ideas into multiple contexts around the world, and showing how the very meaning of work needs re-evaluation when women’s experiences are taken seriously. In addition to doing all this, the collection offers rich empirical materials based on original research. It will no doubt be the work of reference on the topic for years to come.” – Elisabeth Prügl,
Professor of International Relations, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva “
Women’s ILO is a groundbreaking anthology that explores how women’s transnational political networks have shaped the International Labour Organization and how the ILO has sought to create standards for work conditions for women throughout the 20th century. In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the ILO, founded in 1919, this volume brings together established as well as emerging scholars from across the globe to explore issues related to women, labor, and international regulation. The essays, written by historians and social scientists, have a broad geographical as well as chronological reach. The authors explore issues related to gender, work, and economic justice in the global South and North. They also trace the developments of the ILO, women’s networks, and gendered regulations across the interwar years, World War II and the Cold War, and the rise and expansion of neoliberalism and globalization. This is a must-read volume for scholars and students interested in women, labor, and international/transnational history.” – Judy Tzu-Chun Wu,
Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine
Preface Acknowledgements Annotated List of Organizations and Abbreviations/Acronyms Notes on Contributors
Introduction: A Century of Women’s
Eileen Boris, Dorothea Hoehtker and Susan Zimmermann
Part 1: The Work of Transnational Networks
Founders”: 1919 and Its Legacies Dorothy Sue Cobble
Difficult Inroads, Unexpected Results: The Correspondence Committee on Women’s Work in the 1930s Françoise Thébaud
International Networking in the Interwar Years: Gertrud Hanna, Alice Salomon, and Erna Magnus Kirsten Scheiwe and Lucia Artner
Equality’s Cold War: The
Commission on the Status of Women, 1946–1970s Eileen Boris
The Unobtainable Magic of Numbers: Equal Remuneration, the
, and the International Trade Union Movement, 1950s–1980s Silke Neunsinger
Transnational Links and Constraints: Women’s Work, the
, and the
in Africa, 1950s–1980s Yevette Richards
Informal Women Workers Open
Doors through Transnational Organizing, 1980s–2010s Chris Bonner, Pat Horn and Renana Jhabvala
Women’s Representation at the
: A Hundred Years of Marginalization Marieke Louis
Part 2: Developing and Negotiating Global Labour Standards
Globalizing Gendered Labour Policy: International Labour Standards and the Global South, 1919–1947 Susan Zimmermann
Motherhood at the Heart of Labour Regulation: Argentina, 1907–1941 Paula Lucía Aguilar
Unexpected Alliances: Italian Women’s Struggles for Equal Pay, 1940s–1960s Eloisa Betti
Organizing Rural Women in Ghana since the 1980s: Trade Union Efforts and
Standards Akua O. Britwum
Mothers Working Abroad: Migrant Women Caregivers and the
, 1980s–2010s Sonya Michel
When Maternity is Paid Work: Commercial Gestational Surrogacy at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century Mahua Sarkar
All interested in women’s and gender history, global labour history, transnational feminism, gendered global governance, international labour law, and the ILO in universities (advanced undergraduate and postgraduate), institutes and practitioners.