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SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN AND THE LABOUR MARKET IN THE UK: ATTITUDES, BARRIERS, SOLUTIONS

Andrea Wigfield and Royce Turner

Journal of Community Positive Practices, 2012, issue 4, 642-666

Abstract: This paper draws on research carried out in the UK which examined the views of South Asian women towards employment, looking in particular at why the participation rate of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women in the labour market is very low. The focus of the paper is on non-working women. The research was aimed at informing policy design, so that policies intended to assist certain groups of people enter, or get closer to entering, the labour market might be more effective. The research involved carrying interviews with 212 Bangladeshi and Pakistani women in West Yorkshire, a sub-region of the UK with a relatively high Asian population. 26 focus groups were also carried out. It is argued that there are three broad groups of South Asian women in relation to employment: women who are some distance from the labour market; women who wish to enter paid work; and women who do currently work but require support. There are different policy implications for each of these groups. The paper concludes that the barriers to labour market entry are deep-seated, complex, and rooted in cultural, familial, and societal norms. It provides a case study of an innovative programme which was piloted in a nearby sub-region of the UK, South Yorkshire, which was tailor-made to meet the specific needs of South Asian women and was very successful. The paper argues that this could provide a template for programmes in the future aimed at assisting groups facing challenges in relation to labour market entry, such as minority ethnic women.

Keywords: ethnicity; gender; work; aspirations; attitudes; employability policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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