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Drawing on survey data and ethnographic findings, this paper presents a profile of women’s work participation among slum dwellers in Dhaka city. Overall, almost 50% of adult women are engaged in income-generating work outside the home. Life-cycle factors, socioeconomic status and residential location are associated with both level of work participation and type of employment. Women’s contributions to household livelihoods via paid employment are found to be significant and multifaceted. The analysis highlights heterogeneity among poor women’s work experiences and the intense “informalization” of most employment options.

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