A Bangladesh Wage Collective: Increasing Pay for Women Workers

Araji is one of the most remote communities in northern char in the Kurigram District of Bangladesh. The community faces different climate issues including flash floods, cold waves, dense fog, and draught.

According to a wellbeing analysis, there are 160 households in the community of which 4 % are classified as rich, 8 % middle class, 38% poor and 50% extreme poor. The extremely poor households mainly depend on selling agriculture wage labor and about 80% households are somehow depending on agriculture. For a long time, agricultural activities have been struggling to cope with the challenges posed by climate change. Most of the poor and extreme poor people are losing crops, and selling agricultural yields, cattle, poultry and trees for lower prices. Some of the community members take loans from local money lenders with high interest in order to save their livelihoods.

blog A Bangladesh Wage Collective: Increasing Pay for Women Workers

In this context, the community began working with the CARE Bangladesh Pathways program. There are now two occupational (farmer and wage earner) groups consisting of 60 poor and extremely poor women from the community. The Pathways program has facilitated a number of technical sessions on sustainable, productive, equitable, and climate-smart agricultural practices for vegetable and cereal crop production. In addition, Pathways has led technical sessions on gender in order to sensitize men to gender inequalities. Their participatory wage analysis describing the wage gap scenario and its consequences also helps land owners and other wage earners from the community in reducing the gender wage gap.

The participatory wage analysis, the gender awareness session, and the climate smart agriculture practices all together have helped land owners in increasing wages and agricultural outputs. Land owners declared an official increase of wages for women laborers from $1.40 to $1.90 per day. During the women’s wage increase declaration event, the Deputy Commissioner of the Kurigram District encouraged landlords to make good on their commitment to increase pay rates for women wage earners. He also warned that if the increase rate is not established after the declaration, he might take legal measures.

blog2 A Bangladesh Wage Collective: Increasing Pay for Women Workers

A woman who participates in a Pathways savings and loan group and was able to open a tea stall as a result.