"Women in the Assembly Industries" by Mireille Neptune Anglade (1945-2010)

An excerpt from Anglade’s L’autre moitié du développement à propos du travail des femmes en Haïti (1986). Anglade was a feminist economist who protested how women workers were treated in Haiti’s assembly plants.

The subcontracting industry has been able to develop [in Haiti] because it has low costs thanks to its workers, who are not unionized and are overwhelmingly women.

In the absence of official statistics, we believe that there were 40,000 workers [in the assembly industries] in 1980. Since the percentage of workers who were women was likely 70 percent (other authors say it was 75 percent), there were 28,000 women workers that year.

The work of women in the assembly industry serves to produce wealth that derives primarily from transfers, like the trade in locally manufactured goods, from one sector to an external one. Transnational capital is highly efficient because at the end of the line it exploits Haitian women with low wages.

At another level, the local intermediaries who serve in the business hierarchy collect substantial salaries and remunerations as "commandeurs d’ateliers" who know to keep women’s wages as low as possible. So while there is a downward pressure on all wages in the industrial sector, some workers make more than others based on an economic order that is patriarchal. Thus men make more than women because women’s base salaries are lower (even for single mothers) and because women work a "double day" for men who expect, in addition to many other things, women to do all the work in the home, too. In short, industrialization, as currently conceived, is a direct and indirect, savage exploitation of women.