The Gendered Price of Precarity

Marjoke Oosterom and Sohela Nazneen have won a British Academy Grant under the GCRF Youth Futures Call. The project, ‘The gendered price of precarity: Workplace sexual harassment and young women’s agency’, will focus on female workers in Uganda and Bangladesh. The study aims to contribute to an understanding of the processes of empowerment of young women, which may enable them to challenge sexual harassment at the workplace.

Since language is essential for voicing risks and incidents of sexual harassment, the study will pay specific attention to how women speak about their bodies and forms of sexual harassment. The interdisciplinary research team therefore involves linguists alongside political scientists and gender scholars. Overall, this two-year project (2020-2021) will primarily contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality and decent work for all.

The project involves comparative case study research of agro-processing firm workers and informal domestic workers in Uganda and Bangladesh. Having a formal or informal job can influence work dynamics and differential risk to exposure to sexual harassment, with implications for young women’s voice and agency. The study will systematically compare work and gender dynamics across formal firm works and informal domestic workers in both countries. The qualitative research approach will involve innovative visual methods such as Body Mappings and Workplace Safety Audits. A cooperative inquiry with young men and women will ensure young people’s central involvement in the study and the inclusion of their perspectives on solutions.

Project partners are researchers at the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and the Brac Institute for Governance and Development in Bangladesh. They are longstanding partners of IDS and the combined networks of all three partners will enable us to promote the research findings to national and international policy actors and civil society. Two civil society partners are directly involved in the project: Sobujer Obhijan Foundation (SOF) in Bangladesh; and the Institute of Social Transformation (IST) in Uganda). Both have longstanding experience in supporting women’s empowerment, including in the world of work. SOF and IST will play a crucial role by providing input into the study from a practitioner-activist perspective, and take the findings of the study forward.


Image of Marjoke Oosterom
Marjoke Oosterom

Research Fellow

Image of Sohela Nazneen
Sohela Nazneen

Research Fellow

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