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John F. Kennedy School of Government
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Martha Chen is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the
Harvard Kennedy School and International Coordinator of the global
research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment:
Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). An experienced development
practitioner and scholar, her areas of specialization are
employment, gender, and poverty with a focus on the working poor in
the informal economy. Before joining Harvard in 1987, she had two
decades of resident experience in Bangladesh working with BRAC (now
the world's largest non-governmental organization) and in India,
where she served as field representative of Oxfam America for India
and Bangladesh. Marty received a PhD in South Asia Regional Studies
from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous
books including Bridging Perspectives: Labour, Informal
Employment, and Poverty (co-edited with Namrata Bali and Ravi
Kanbur), The Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work
and Poverty (co-authored with Joann Vanek, Francie Lund, James
Heintz, Renana Jhabvala and Chris Bonner), Mainstreaming
Informal Employment and Gender in Poverty Reduction
(co-authored with Joann Vanek and Marilyn Carr), Women and Men
in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture (co-authored
with Joann Vanek) and Perpetual Mourning: Widowhood in Rural
India. Dr. Chen was awarded a high civilian award, the Padma
Shri, by the Government of India in April 2011; and a Friends of
Bangladesh Liberation War award by the Government of Bangladesh in
The Informal Economy: Links with Poverty, Growth, and Economic Crises
Martha Chen welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:
Additional experts may be found by clicking on each subject listed. You may contact faculty directly or if you need assistance contact the Communications Office at 617-495-1115.
For a complete list of faculty citations from 2001 - present, please visit the Harvard Kennedy School Research Report Online.
Selected Publication Citations:
- Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles
Chen, Martha. "Informal Workers in the Developing World: Organizing
in the Global Economy." New Labor Forum 22.1
(January/February 2013): 67-73.
Chen, Martha, and Joann Vanek. "Informal Employment Revisited:
Theories, Data, and Policies." Indian Journal of Industrial
Relations 48.3 (January 2013).
Chen, Martha. "Urban Employment in India: Recent Trends and Future
Prospects." MARGIN—The Journal of Applied Economic Research
- Book Chapters
Chen, Martha. "Women and the Informal Economy: Economic Actors and
Global Leaders." Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social
Change. Ed. Trish Tierney. Institute of International Education
Chen, Martha. "Global Recession and the Informal Economy: Evidence
from Latin America and Beyond." The Global Economic Crisis in
Latin America. Ed. Michael Cohen. Routledge, May 2012.
- Edited Volumes
Bali, Namrata, Martha Alter Chen, and Ravi Kanbur, eds. Bridging
Perspectives: Labour, Informality, and Poverty. SEWA Academy,
- Research Papers/Reports
Chen, Martha. "Self-Employed Women’s Association of India: A
National Trade Union and International Role Model." Case Study for
World Development Report 2013, World Bank, 2012.
Chen, Martha, Chris Bonner, Mahendra Chetty, Lucia Fernandez, Karin
Pape, Federico Parra, Arbind Singh, and Caroline Skinner. "Urban
Informal Workers: Representative Voice & Economic Rights."
Background Paper for World Development Report 2012, World Bank,
Chen, Martha. "The Informal Economy: Definitions, Theories and
Policies." WIEGO Working Paper No. 1, August 2012.