From Jobs to Careers: Apparel Exports and Career Paths for Women in Developing Countries

It is well-established that bringing more women into the formal labor force is critical for economic development. One strategy often cited is further integrating developing countries into global trade, particularly global value chains (GVCs), to contribute to female labor market outcomes through the expansion of female-intensive industries. As a result, a big question frequently debated, is whether the apparel industry – which is the most female-intensive and globally engaged manufacturing industry – can be a key player in this regard. In recent decades, the apparel industry has shifted its production to low-wage developing countries, increasing the demand for women, closing male-female wage gaps, and bringing women into the formal labor force. Indeed, the benefits of apparel exports have reached the female population, but is an apparel-led export strategy sufficient to induce the transition from jobs to careers? This book provides an answer by focusing on seven countries where the apparel industry plays an important role in its export basket – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. The Report’s key finding is that countries should take advantage of the apparel industry as a launching platform to overcome the fixed costs of introducing more women into the labor market. However, for this approach to work, there needs to be complementary policies that tackle the barriers that hinder women in their pursuit of long-term participation in the labor force and better-paid occupations. A hope is to shift the paradigm of how we think of women’s participation in the labor force by demonstrating the importance of the distinction between jobs and careers. Although aspirations towards careers are achieved in different ways, understanding how progress is being made in each country towards a more equitable life between men and women will pave the way for a better route forward.

Occupational safety and health improvement in the garment industry

The objective of this synthesis review is to establish OSH vulnerability profiles and identify the common drivers that could be leveraged and the constraints that should be addressed to improve OSH in garment factories. The findings provide information that could be used in developing effective strategies to improve OSH in global supply chains in the garment industry and to identify research gaps and potential for future research. The report is published by the ILO Vision Zero Fund.

Pakistan in the Apparel Global Value Chain

This Duke GVCC study on Pakistan’s apparel industry was sponsored by the World Bank in order to understand potential upgrading strategies to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the GVC. It begins by providing an overview of the apparel GVC to present a clear understanding of the scope of the industry, how markets are structured and how changing distribution of demand and supply destinations and lead firm organization alter structural dynamics in the chain. It then analyzes the industry within Pakistan, first detailing the country’s position in the chain by looking at its firm profile, backward linkages, product profile and end markets. The internal organization of the industry is then outlined as well as recent examples of upgrading and the factors that influence the labor environment. After assessing the country’s advantages and constraints, it provides short case studies on Vietnam and Sri Lanka’s experiences in the industry. The report concludes with potential upgrading strategies for the Pakistan in the industry.

Central America in Manufacturing Global Value Chains (GVCs)

This research uses the global value chain (GVC) framework to analyze Central America’s participation in global manufacturing value chains, to understand the region’s competitiveness drivers and to evaluate potential risks to continued participation if US trade policies were to change. Central America’s entry into manufacturing GVCs has been through the insertion in various chains including apparel, wire harnesses (automotive) and medical devices. These sectors span low-, medium-, and high-tech manufacturing. They are important contributors to the region’s export basket, and the US is central to their trade. To understand how the region operates in these manufacturing sectors, this report analyzes the participation of select countries in each of the three value chains: apparel (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), wire harnesses (Honduras and Nicaragua) and medical devices (Costa Rica and Dominican Republic).

Apparel

The apparel global value chain (GVC) has been one of the hallmark cases of globalization, since the establishment of the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA) in the early 1970s through the phase-out of the MFA in 2005. The MFA quota system sparked the spread of global production in apparel to every corner of the globe.

Duke GVC Center researchers have tracked global apparel trends in multiple projects, publications and websites. The apparel industry is analyzed in the North Carolina in the Global Economy website, and it is also one of the four industries covered in a report on Skills for Upgrading: Workforce Development and GVCs in Developing Countries. Gary Gereffi and Stacey Frederick have published several articles on apparel GVCs, including a chapter in the World Bank book Global Value Chains in a Postcrisis World: A Development Perspective (2010), and Frederick has collaborated with Cornelia Staritz in developing a series of detailed country case studies for another World Bank book – Sewing Success? Employment, Wages and Poverty Following the End of the Multi-fibre Arrangement (2012).

Vietnam at a Crossroads – Engaging in the Next Generation of Global Value Chains

Vietnam has emerged as an Asian manufacturing powerhouse, carving out a role for itself within global value chains (GVCs). In this World Bank Group publication, readers will gain a strong understanding of Vietnam’s current and potential engagement with GVCs and learn about strategic policy tools that can help developing countries achieve economic prosperity. Its findings will be of particular interest to policymakers, development practitioners, and academics. Stacey Frederick authored chapter 7 of this publication which covers Vietnam’s textile and apparel industry and trade networks.

Stitches to Riches?: Apparel Employment, Trade, and Economic Development in South Asia

Stacey Frederick authored chapters 2 and 5 in this World Bank book on the apparel industry. The book is motivated by South Asia’s need to create more and better jobs for a growing population; it investigates the region’s potential for expanding and improving jobs in the labor-intensive apparel sector. It estimates the effects of rising wages in China on apparel exports, employment, and wages in South Asia, and provides policy recommendations to leverage the sector for greater job creation.

Peru in the High Quality Cotton Textile and Apparel GVC: Opportunities for Upgrading

Bahrain’s Position in the Global Apparel Value Chain: How the U.S.-Bahrain FTA and TPLs Shape Future Development Options

This report analyzes the situation and potential future outcomes of Bahrain’s apparel industry in light of the upcoming TPL expiration in July 2016.

Pro-Poor Development and Power Asymmetries in Global Value Chains

This report for Oxfam presents the asymmetric power relations in global value chains. It examines the limits of private governance and its development implications for local firms and producers in developing countries by drawing on the cases of apparel, cocoa-chocolate, and sugar-‘soft drink’ global value chains.