Bangladeshi unions protest for maternity leave equality on International Womens’ Day
Bangladeshi garment workers’ unions used International Women’s day to campaign for the right to six months of maternity leave for all women working in the private sector.
Whilst government workers are already entitled to six months paid maternity leave by Bangladeshi law, private sector workers, including millions of female garment workers, are only given four months. The National Garment Workers Federation formed a human chain of female workers in front of the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka to protest against the discrimination.
The rally was addressed by, amongst others, Federation General Secretary Ms Safia Parvin as well as central leaders Ms Nurun Nahar and Ms Arifa Akter. NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin chaired the protest.
The speakers' message was loud and clear: "Women are considered second class citizens in Bangladesh and working conditions for female workers are amongst the worst."
"Furthermore, the government has created new ways of discriminating against female workers in the private sector, many of whom are involved in the production process.”
The garment sector alone employs more than 3 million women workers in Bangladesh, the vast majority of which are women.
“But, the government has announced and implemented 6-month maternity leave for women working in the government sector while it remains 4 months for private sector workers, including those in the garment sector,” the speakers added.
“One country two laws on the same issue for women- This discrimination should end.”
The protesters issued a series of demands to the Bangladeshi government:
- Immediately announce six months paid maternity leave for private sector women workers, equal to that of the government sector
- Ensure equal rights, equal pay & equal promotion for women workers
- Establish equal rights for women in family, workplace, society & state
- Establish equal rights for woman in family property