This book developed from a seminar, 'Empowering Women in the Casualised Trades', organised by Sheila Rowbotham and Swasti Mitter in 1990 as part of the Women's Programme of the United Nations World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER). We are grateful to WIDER for providing the financial backing for the research and writing of the book and for the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas in the stimulating atmosphere of the Institute. The director of WIDER Lal Jayawardena's eclectic and far-ranging vision of development processes created a vital context for considering the implications of emergent forms of grassroots organisation.
In the years of preparing the seminar and papers Kumari Jayawardena, MarjaLiisa Swantz, Robin Murray, Diane Elson and Eileen Boris were important inspirational influences.
We would also like to thank the researchers at WIDER and from other academic institutes in Finland who contributed to the arguments and ideas in the book and the staff of WIDER for the administrative back-up which made our seminar possible. Thanks also to David Dougan of the Fawcett Library, Salome Mjema, assistant to Aili Mari Tripp in Tanzania, Annie Posthuma for her translation of Silvia Tirado's chapter, the typing pool and Sonia Lane who typed parts of the manuscript.