Scaling up of Wage Movement in Bangladesh

bang2 Scaling up of Wage Movement in Bangladesh

Female farmers’ contributions in agriculture and food security remain largely unrecognized in Bangladesh, though they have been working in the sector in equal numbers as men for ages. If we want to recognize women’s contributions in agriculture then we have to first ensure equal pay for equal work.

Recently, an analysis has been done by the CARE Pathways project team in Bangladesh that shows that landlords are acknowledging that women are giving almost the same service as men, and in some agricultural activities women are more skilled than men . These landlords admitted that women provide quality work and spend more time on work as they do not spend time smoking. Landlords reported that women are more skilled in sapling raising and transplanting, specific crops like potato, maize, and chili, weeding, and harvesting.

Pathways is facilitating this wage mobilization process aimed at reducing the gender wage differential in agriculture by catalyzing action among landlords, wage earners, and local administration. The mobilization process created significant impact in reducing the wage gap between men and women. The impact assessment report of Pathways shows that the wage rate for male agricultural day labor has increased by around 23%, while that for female agricultural day labor has gone up by around 46%.

bang Scaling up of Wage Movement in Bangladesh

Based on the solid impact and learning from phase one of the project, the process has been scaled in phase two. The project is now focusing on climate vulnerability, because climate change and disaster has significant impact on agricultural wage earners. This process also includes gender awareness and mass mobilization on fair wages for women and men in larger administrative units.

As a first step, the program targeted the Chinai Union (an administrative unit of the Upazila) under Kurigram District and went through the process facilitation. The process started in June 2015 and took around eight months of wage group mobilization, gender sensitization, participatory wage analysis and creating ignition between landlords and local administration.

To build greater solidarity and ignition between wage earner and landlord and with the broader community, the project facilitated 127 awareness and analysis sessions on gender roles and women’s contributions in agriculture, fair wages, and the social and economic consequences of the gender wage differential. A total of 4361 (women-2940 and men-1421) men and women participated in those awareness and analysis sessions. The table below shows more detail on the facilitation area (data as of December 2015):

Session Total Number of Sessions Participants
Gender awareness session ( gender role & women’s contribution in agriculture) 98 4361 
Awareness on gender based wage time analysis by daily time use tool 11 650 
Wage Analysis (Wage differentials context and consequences of wage gap) 98 4361 
Stake holders Workshop(Land lords, wage leader, GO NGOs) 01 44 
Matchmaking workshop between wage leader and land lords 18 360
Ward level gathering 04 4000 (approx)

Finally, within this short time, the landlords and Chairman of Chinai Union Parishad  agreed to increase the wages for all female laborers under Chinai Union. Landlords and Chairman of Chinai Union is going to declare increasing women’s daily wages by approximately $0.50 per day beginning January 20, 2016. The District Commissioner Kurigram hoped to witness and learn about the process that created such dramatic change in a short time!

The primary steps that this process took were:

  •      Collective engagement on gender awareness and the roles of men and women in agriculture
  •      Enhance bargaining and negotiation capacity of women
  •      Participatory wage analysis and action plan (Wage differentials context and consequences of wage gap in economic and social terms)
  •      Engage landlords and local government in the analysis and awareness intervention
  •      Mass mobilization on fair wage for women and men in larger administrative units highlighting the consequences in their region
  •      Mass gathering event on equal wage declaration by wage providers

Contributor: Kakuly Tanvin