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Abstract

This article examines the extent to which home–based production in the garment sector of Ahmedabad, India, serves to empower its female participants, defining empowerment in terms of control over enterprise income and decision–making within the household. It places this question within the literatures on resource theory and bargaining models of the household, both of which posit that improved access to resources increases women's power in the household. This study highlights why access to resources may not lead so directly to improvements in women's position in the household in the Indian context. It then discusses why home–based work may be less empowering than sources of work outside of the home. The arguments about the empowerment potential of women's access to resources through home–based work are tested by examining, first, the determinants of control over the income generated by women in home–based garment production and, second, to what extent access to and control over income from this source translates into involvement in decisions which are atypically women's and yet important to their lives. The results provide a better understanding of the potential of home–based work to offer women in urban India a source of economic activity that also can translate into increased intra–household power.