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What Motivates Female Operators to Enter the Garment Industry in Pakistan in the Post-MFA Period?

Discussion Papers


December 2012


Pakistan's knitwear exports had been struggling since the quota phase-out until 2009. A particular feature of Pakistan's garment industry is that hiring more male sewing operators at piece rates. Recently, a few surviving knitwear factories have adopted a strategy of shifting from male piece-rate operators to salaried female operators. In Pakistan, female participation in general workforce is very limited and hiring salaried female operators requires management effort and expertise. However, even in the factories with such management skills, household factors prevent females from working outside because Pakistani culture disrespects women working in factories. Our survey reveals that financial motives compel female household members to work outside their homes and that female operators contribute substantially to their households' finances.

Keywords: Garment industry, post-MFA, female labor participation, Pakistan
JEL classification: D22, F16, F66, J16, O53

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