Trade unions in Bangladesh uncongenial to women: Study

BDApparelNews Desk
19 May 2019  

Discussants at the press conference organised by Bangladesh Labour Institute in Dhaka on May 18, 2019. Photo: Niranjan Das

Discussants at the press conference organised by Bangladesh Labour Institute in Dhaka on May 18, 2019. Photo: Niranjan Das

Amidst the existing social barriers, trade unions in Bangladesh are uncongenial to women’s participation in moving for their rights, says a recent study.

The study titled ‘Barriers to women in trade unions and labour organisations: Apparel industry perspective’ by Bangladesh Labour Institute (Banshi) was published at a press conference in Dhaka’s Moni Singh Farhad Memorial Trust on May 18, 2019.

Women at trade unions are sandwiched between household work and factory work, Researcher Farhana Afrin Tithi said while presenting the study findings. Also, the trade unions themselves are uncongenial to women on the whole and lack democratic environment.

The study underlined that women leadership are not growing at trade unions due to household pressure, social barriers, non-democratic practices and others.

According to what was said in the report, it took interviews of 29 respondents – women leaders at trade unions, experts and lawyers – representing in nine national-level organisations and located in Kalyanpur, Mirpur, and Savar to present the findings.

“The patriarchic view of society is reflected within the trade unions as well,” Banshi’s trustee board President Shah Atiul Alam said at the programme. “Due to uneven development of capitalism in Bangladesh, the rights of workers have not been established properly. It is one of the factors hindering women’s participation in organisations.”

Trade Union Kendra President Shahidullah Chowdhury said: “The labour law itself is a big barrier towards women’s participation in trade unions. We need a strong labour movement to create equal opportunity for all workers in the law.”

Socialist Women’s Forum President Sampa Basu said: “Women are not safe in the country. So, it is very natural that a woman will be denied of a congenial atmosphere within trade unions.”

Notably, Bangladesh’s 3.6 million apparel industry workers are predominantly women.