Dignity and Daily Bread is one of several studies growing from the Women's Programme of the World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/ WIDER), a research and training centre of the United Nations University. The aim of the Women's Programme is to assert women's issues in development and also to demonstrate how gender affects economic development.
WIDER has encouraged a wide range of research exploring development issues from diverse perspectives. These have faced challenges presented by poverty, debt, environmental devastation and examined financial and economic crises along with changing forms of production and distribution. They have been concerned with the creation of policies and with the institutional machinery to ensure that these have an effect. A continuing theme has been the commitment to intervention within economies combined with a rethinking of the role of the state and the market.
Dignity and Daily Bread brings together work on the human responses to these macro-economic processes. The contributors show the importance of the general condition of the economy for women's well-being. They examine how gender relations interact with other social relationships and question an abstract separation between economy, culture and society. The specific case studies examine the impact of state policies and market forces upon poor women's lives and describe both the resistance and resourcefulness developing at the grassroots. The book chronicles a dynamism born of necessity. The editors Sheila Rowbotham and Swasti Mitter bring a combined historical and economic approach which draws out the implications of these emergent forms of organising for an extension of democratic participation in a people-centred development process. The movements described in Dignity and Daily Bread are crucial if economic and human resources are not to be wasted in unwieldy, inappropriate state policies which cannot be implemented or in narrowly defined market imperatives which lack any long-term social vision.