Women construction workers in Nepal: Collectivities under precarious conditions

Wilson, Kalpana; Ismail, Feyzi; Kharel, Sambriddhi and Dahal, Swechchha. 2024. Women construction workers in Nepal: Collectivities under precarious conditions. Gender, Work & Organization, 31(2), pp. 419-434. ISSN 0968-6673 [Article]

Gender Work Organization - 2023 - Wilson - Women construction workers in Nepal Collectivities under precarious.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (260kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

In this article, we explore the experiences of women construction workers in Nepal and the strategies that these workers have adopted to challenge the exploitation and inequalities they confront. We firstly argue that the experiences of women construction workers in Nepal are shaped by compulsive engagement in labor markets under conditions of informality, precarity, and gendered responsibility for social reproduction. These experiences reflect multiple intersections of gender, class, caste, and ethnicity in the arenas of the household, the workplace, trade unions, and the state. However, policy interventions related to women's participation in labor markets and inspired by the Gender Equality as Smart Economics approach, such as Nepal's post-earthquake mason training scheme targeting women construction workers, render invisible these structures of inequality, exploitation, and violence. Second, we argue that women construction workers negotiate—and in some cases challenge and change—working conditions, primarily through a variety of informal and formal collective strategies. Women construction workers' own narratives and practices, we find, bear little resemblance to the narratives promoted by the International Financial Institutions and the state, in which women workers appear as resilient, altruistic, and industrious entrepreneurial subjects seeking individual self-improvement within the neoliberal framework. They rather invoke informal and organized collectivities, negotiate, and often resist, gendered norms of behavior and at times radically re-envision the scope of trade union struggles.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

Funding information: Global Challenges Research Fund; London International Development Centre

Data Access Statement:

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.


construction, gender, labour, Nepal, trade unions

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


10 September 2023Accepted
16 October 2023Published Online
March 2024Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

08 Feb 2024 16:00

Last Modified:

16 May 2024 14:46

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)