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The Role of Labour Standards in DevelopmentFrom theory to sustainable practice?$
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Tonia Novitz and David Mangan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264911

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264911.001.0001

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Gender, equality and capabilities*

Gender, equality and capabilities*

Care work and sustainable development

(p.40) (p.41) 3. Gender, equality and capabilities*
The Role of Labour Standards in Development

Judy Fudge

British Academy

This chapter considers the relationship between women's equality, care work, and sustainable development, and develops a conceptual framework that can be used to understand this complex relationship. The chapter is organized as follows. The second section briefly reviews the relationship between sustainable development, which includes the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) ‘Decent Work’ Agenda, and women's equality. It answers the question on what basis or dimension women's equality should be measured. Instead of assessing a range of potential answers, it focuses on Amartya Sen's notion of substantive freedom and his capabilities approach. The third section argues that women's equality, and especially the relationship between women's equality and responsibility for care work, illustrates both the promise of, and the limitations to, Sen's capabilities approach. The fourth section sketches some of the salient differences between paid and unpaid care work in the North and the South, which also considers the capacity of the ILO 2009 report, ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’, to respond to these differences. Drawing upon feminist scholars, the fifth section argues that, supplemented by a theory of choice, deliberative mechanisms, and a social theory of power, the capabilities approach can be a useful tool for conceptualising women's equality and for recognising the significance of socially necessary care work. The chapter concludes by suggesting that a robust capabilities approach designed to address gender inequality and to incorporate care work illuminates the limitations in the current approaches of antidiscrimination law for addressing women's inequality.

Keywords:   women's equality, International Labour Organization, Amartya Sen, substantive freedom, capabilities approach

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