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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women, the household economy and the informal sector in Hanoi Drummond, Lisa Barbara Welch


This thesis explores the role of women in a transitional economy. Doi moi, the process of 'renovation', is the restructuring of the economy from centrally-planned to market-driven. The consequences of this restructuring is affecting women’s economic roles in the economy and in the household in very specific ways. Vietnamese women have a long history of participation, if not domination, of trading activities. The simultaneous lifting of restrictions against the private sector and mass unemployment resulting from cuts in subsidies to state-owned enterprise has resulted in a blossoming of the informal sector, and a revival of this 'traditional’ occupation for women. This revival has taken place with the tacit, sometimes outright encouragement of the government, which looks to the household to play the economic and social role necessary to replace the shrinking state sector employment and crumbling social services system. This thesis looks specifically at the informal sector in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and issues in the lives of women who participate in it. The thesis describes in general terms the situation of urban women in contemporary Vietnam, reviews some of the major economic developments in Vietnam since reunifcation in 1975, and looks at some issues in urbanization trends in Hanoi which affect and involve the informal sector. The focus of the thesis is a discussion of qualitative research interviews conducted in 1991-92 with women in informal sector activities, which details these activities and the ways in which this type of employment affects women's roles within the household and in society.

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