Two pronouncements made eighty years apart capture the making of the woman worker under global labor standards. A resolution passed by the 1937 International Labour Conference (ILC) constructed the woman worker as both the same as but different from the male worker. “Women should have full opportunity to work and should receive remuneration without discrimination because of sex,” the ILC declared, “and be protected by legislative safeguards against physically harmful conditions of employment and economic exploitation, including the safeguarding of motherhood.”1 The International Labour Organization (ILO) had embedded such duality in its 1919 constitution, would reaffirm this binary in the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia, and restate it periodically for the rest of the twentieth century.2 This twosome position singled out motherhood, a material and social form of reproductive labor, for protection but conceptualized opportunity and equality as different phenomena....
Beyond Separate Spheres
EILEEN BORIS is the Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor of feminist studies, history, black studies, and global studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. She writes on home labors and the racialized gendered state. Among her recent works are the coedited, with Dorothea Hoehtker and Susan Zimmermann, Women’s ILO: Transnational Networks, Global Labor Standards, and Gender Equity, 1919 to the Present (2018) and Making the Woman Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919–2019 (forthcoming).
Eileen Boris; Beyond Separate Spheres. Labor 1 May 2019; 16 (2): 43–47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7323613
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