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Surviving Covid-19 and a military coup as a garment worker
How empirical studies of the experience of gendered garment production networks can fashion regulatory strategies of solidarity in the Economic-North

Presented by Associate Professor Shelley Marshall and Sara Todt from RMIT

Garment workers in Myanmar and Thailand are presented in starkly contrasting ways in the media: as downtrodden, oppressed workers toiling to produce cheap clothes for consumers in the West; and, as militant defenders of democracy against a military coup and illiberalism. Which one is true? And which should inform the types of regulatory strategies developed in the Economic-North to improve the conditions of these workers?

This paper is concerned with how, as women in the Economic-North, we can understand the experience of female garment workers in Thailand and Myanmar and conceive of our relationship with them via global garment production networks. It draws on empirical research conducted throughout the pandemic and the military coup in Myanmar, and participatory action research conducted in Thailand with garment workers and regulators prior to the pandemic. From this empirical starting point of perceptions, ambitions and tribulations shared by garment workers, it considers forms of ‘regulatory solidarity’. How can laws and policies in Australia and other countries in the Economic-North best contribute to improving the working conditions of these workers? Is the Modern Slavery Act and mandatory human rights due diligence as good as it gets, or can we do better by these women?

This public lecture is sponsored by La Trobe Asia and is the opening event of the Women in Asia Conference 2021 hosted by La Trobe University.

The conference will be held at La Trobe's City Campus for those who wish attend in-person and online for all other participants.

Nov 23, 2021 05:30 PM in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

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