From dreams to reality : a case study of a women's enterprise agency.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study documents the strategies of a feminist organisation directed at enhancing women's access to flexible well paid work in occupations in which women have been under- represented. Founded on the initiative of women working in government departments and local bodies, 'Femco' utilised a variety of state initiatives which provided resources to organisations running training courses, generating employment for 'disadvantaged' groups and enhancing individuals' access to self-employment. While it strategically responded to successive employment schemes developed by both Labour and National governments, Femco sought to operate in the private sector through setting up a women's labour pool which competed with other businesses for contracts. Femco provided work opportunities in the areas of painting, gardening and lawn mowing for women who were unemployed and or beneficiaries, interested in part-time and casual work. The study documents the interaction between 'Femco' as a women's community business initiative and state policy with respect to the economy and employment generation. It explores contradictions in state policy and tensions in the operation of this feminist organisation which set out to provide women with work in male dominated trades, but found itself operating a team of women cleaners and business advisory service. The difficulties of sustaining commitment to flat rates of pay, non hierarchical organisation and support for women seeking flexible employment while competing for contracts with other businesses are analysed. Through this case study of a single organisation the relationships between national policy initiatives and local community strategies are explored. This study also provides an opportunity to analyse the complexities of practical politics and the interaction between political vision and the active strategising of a group of feminists interested in changing women's position in employment.