Only 24 per cent of female readymade garment workers in comparison with male RMG workers (45 per cent) are in charge of making spending decisions on their income, according to a survey report released on Monday.
The survey ‘Garment Workers in Bangladesh: Gender Dynamics and Money Decisions’ conducted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling in partnership with the Microfinance Opportunities looked into aspects of salary management, expenditure, savings and education decisions.
According to the survey, 61 per cent of garment workers reported that they themselves and their family members decided how to spend money.
Of them, 65 per cent of women compared to 46 per cent of men said that spending decisions were made by the whole family.
‘Forty-four per cent of garment workers manage their salaries on their own. However, in that case, it is only 39 per cent of women compared to 62 per cent of men who reported that they made salary decisions on their own,’ the report said.
It found that female workers were more likely than male workers to make financial decisions in consultation with other family members and men were more likely than women to make financial decision on their own.
Regarding income-related decisions, 44 per cent of garment workers reported that they made decisions on their own, the report said.
Of them, 39 per cent of women and 62 per cent of men reported that they made their income-related decision on their own.
To assess the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the overall working and living conditions of garment workers in Bangladesh, the SANEM interviewed 1,367 workers employed in factories in Chattogram, Dhaka city, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka.
Over three-quarters of the working respondents are women, the report said.
As per the report, 36 per cent of garment workers reported that they themselves in addition to others made a decision together as to what to do with their salary earnings.
‘Thirty-nine per cent of women reported sharing decision-making responsibilities, compared to 23 per cent of men,’ the survey said.
Fourteen per cent of RMG workers (women 15 per cent and men 11 per cent) said that they took what they needed and handed over the rest to someone else while six per cent of workers reported handing their salary over for someone else to decide what to do with their salary earnings.
During the survey, 35 per cent of garment workers reported that they made savings decisions on their own and it found that women were less likely to report that they made savings decisions on their own as it was 30 per cent for women compared to 49 per cent for men.
Fifty-five per cent of garment workers reported that savings decisions were made with the entire family while eight per cent reported someone else as the person making decisions on savings.
Regarding making decisions on their children’s education, 26 per cent of garment workers reported that they made education decisions on their own and of them 23 per cent was women and 38 per cent men, the report said.
According to the survey, 67 per cent of garment workers said that decision making for children’s education was shared with the entire family while seven per cent chose ‘someone else’ as the person in charge of their children’s education decisions.
In most cases it has been established as a custom in our society that male would take decisions on family expenses, savings and children’s education due to the patriarchal practice, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Nazneen Ahmed told New Age.
‘Women are working at garment factories for their livelihood; they are not going there for a career. So it is difficult for them to go beyond the system of patriarchy,’ she said.
Many of the women working at RMG factories are not aware about savings, expanses and education as they are habituated with the male dominating society, Nazneen said.
She said that due to the practice in society, some women preferred men in case of making decisions on family matters.
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