The labour market of Bangladesh was growing increasingly but women were not coming forward taking leadership role in trade unions, labour rights activists observed on Tuesday.
At a views exchange on finding the way towards gender equality and providing an overview of the development of trade unions, they identified job insecurity, social taboos and family responsibility as the barriers for women to participate in workers’ union activities.
Karmojibi Nari and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung jointly organised the meeting at in the city.
Speaking as chief guest, shipping minister Shahjahan Khan said the government always encouraged workers to take part in trade union activities.
He said despite pressure from employers, about 500 trade unions have been formed since 2013.
Shahjahan, also a labour leader, said the workers should be united rather than creating division in the name of unions.
‘Single union is effective to realize demands and rights’, he said.
Dhaka University associate professor of women and gender studies, Tania Hoque, said referring to her recent study that women were still under represented in trade unions, which affects their ability to demand their needed rights.
She said women skipped trade union not only because of unawareness but also to protect themselves from social humiliation.
‘People don’t perceive women leaders as good women as they talk loudly, walk around like men and meet many people’,
She said workers because of fear to lose jobs maintain secrecy about trade union activities.
Karmojibi Nari president Pratima Paul Mojumder said the labour market of Bangladesh was growing but the women were not taking part in the leadership of trade unions.
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed said the development of women workers has not been made over the years.
He said there were quota strategy, pool strategy and push strategy to send women in the forefront, but the women cannot move forward after reaching a certain level of their occupations.
Workers leader Swapna Hafiz said trade union should be made mandatory for employers setting up any business.
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