This issues paper focuses on the garment industry, one of three sectors being addressed in WIEGO’s global markets program, which seeks to explain how current changes in global production and distribution systems affect women. The paper will be followed by a number of research studies, designed to support the activities of the International Alliance of Home-Based Workers (HomeNet). HomeNet organizes both sub-contracted home-based workers and own account workers in the informal sector, and has requested WIEGO’s assistance in analyzing present trends in the garment industry and in forging links with the government and private sectors to advocate for policy changes. The research findings will contribute to the policy dialogue and to finding ways to help women to challenge, to adjust to, or, to take advantage ofthe changes and opportunities resulting from the emerging trade and investment patterns.
In preparing the paper, the primary researcher consulted with a reference group of HomeNet representatives as well as the extensive literature. The goal of the paper was to identify: key issues in the garment sector; gaps in the current research on these issues; key actors including organizations, activists, researchers and policy makers; and, directions for future research, action,and policies. The paper begins by discussing the concept of globalization and the current situation of garment workers. It then focuses on three broad thematic areas—the new trade agenda, changing production issues, and responses—within which are discussed a number of leading issues, key questions, research gaps and recommendations, and list key sources. It concludes with a bibliography