Sunday, April 01, 2012
Fighting for Bangladeshi women in Glasgow
Women and men from UK Feminista took to the high street to protest against the exploitation uncovered in factories supplying Nike. The actions, taking place outside Nike stores in London and Glasgow. The demonstrations are a response to new research published by War on Want which has uncovered the systematic violations of workers’ rights in Bangladeshi factories supplying garments for Nike, Puma and Adidas.
All factories visited were illegally employing staff for more than 60 hours a week, and five of the six failed to pay the legal minimal wage. Eighty five per cent of Bangladesh’s garment workers are women. 1 in 10 workers experiencing sexual harassment. Many are refused maternity rights or simply fired when discovered to be pregnant.
Low paid jobs are consistently filled by women. Women lack other employment opportunities due to poor access to education, and are affected by entrenched gender stereotypes around what constitutes ‘women’s work’. These include assumptions around their primary roles as carers rather than breadwinners, stereotyping women as supplementary earners and so excusing the payment of low wages. In this way firms like Nike are able to profit from gender inequality through utilising a cheap, female labour force subsidised by stereotypes.
The protest was not asking for boycott. Neither did it aim to ladle guilt onto women as consumers over where they shop. Instead it was a protest in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh which aims to spotlight the ability of firms like Nike to reap huge profits relies on gender inequality and demanded that Nike takes positive steps to end this.