Purdah in the 21st century: Women’s experiences of work and space in Dhaka

Bethany Jennings, Steve Kirkwood, Viviene E. Cree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many countries, women’s movements continue to be dictated by gendered spaces, including social practices such as purdah. At the same time, globalisation and increased urbanisation in recent years have transformed women’s lives, bringing about a significant increase in opportunities for women to work outside their homes. This article explores purdah in Bangladeshi society through an ethnographic study in one of Dhaka’s low income communities. It will be argued that while new employment opportunities allow women to enter spaces that were hitherto not accessible to them, these employment opportunities are, in reality, often extensions of existing exploitative, patriarchal systems. Furthermore, women must manage their movements in specific ways in order to maintain a positive identity and moral status. These negotiations are an integral part of the day-to-day experiences of women as they navigate their relationships and employment in the changed context of their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102560
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Early online date11 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022


  • purdah
  • space
  • place
  • identity
  • gender
  • women
  • work
  • employment
  • Bangladesh


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