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Living in the background: homebased women workers and poverty persistence

Donna Doane


This paper examines the relationship between home-based work and persistent poverty in certain parts of South and South East Asia (Thailand, Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Lao PDR, Indonesia); the question of inter-generational poverty in the families of home-based workers; and the possibility of using social protection and other related policies as a means of helping to alleviate poverty and vulnerability among homebased workers.

It looks at those elements that cause some home-based women workers and their children to remain in a situation of persistent poverty and vulnerability, and considers the contributing factors that allow others to attain some degree of security. Issues such as gender, social exclusion and economic trends are amongst the factors that can work against the well-being of home-based workers. In terms of trying to create effective policies to deal with chronic poverty among informal workers, the paper explores some of the elements that make it possible to move from a condition of institutional neglect to one of institutional support.

This Working Paper draws on recent analyses and case studies carried out by researchers associated with two closely-tied networks of home-based workers in South Asia and South East Asia: HomeNet South East Asia and HomeNet South Asia, the latter in association with the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST). These two studies are very detailed and cover a wide range of issues, including an analysis of specific indigenous, local and national social protection schemes, as well as the influence of such considerations as local cultures and religions as they relate to the needs and coping strategies of different groups of home-based workers. This paper draws on only a small portion of the total findings of the HomeNet studies, focusing on their implications for the persistence of poverty over time.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


social relations gender labour

ISBN: 1-904049-96-6


Living in the background PDF 357.1 KB

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