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Another element which characterises the female labour market in Bangladesh is class. There are some occupations like teacher and doctor that prioritise women because they serve the maintenance of purdah of woman in general as well as that of the actual women working in those occupations. Women who work in these ‘women’s occupations’ are from middle or upper-middle class backgrounds. As a whole, however, employment opportunities for women have been severely limited

both in numbers and types of employment. from the lower-middle and lower class with

In particular, for those who come little or no academic qualifications,

few jobs are available except in occupations domestic service, petty trade, daily labour sex-workers.

of an informal nature, on construction sites

such

as

and

as

While economic imperatives have indeed made many women transcend traditional roles, the social norms and ideologies governing the gender-based division of labour and space and the subordinate position of women as a gender have generally remained intact. Consequently, despite the fact that new patterns of sexual division of labour have been created, it is questionable whether

women’s subordinate shift in the norms and

position has improved, values that accrue to the

and if

it has, in

what

way. The

gender

roles was

not in

conformity

with the shift that occurred in the actual role performances. as a system of social control over women is still a relevant

The norm of purdah and significant basis

for gender controlling

identity and gender relations.

It

behaviour

and

attitudes

of

women,

not but

only functions as also sets the value

a norm standard

with respect to social employment outside the her family.

status 9 .

This implies that a woman who takes

home

risks

losing

social

prestige

for

herself

as

well

up as

However class plays a role in the impact of employment on status. Recently an

9 Being able to keep one’s women in seclusion was a sign of prosperity and family status since it requires households to exert careful management as well as to possess substantial economic and human resources (Feldman and McCarthy 1983: 952).

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