Recognising jute workers’ rights in Bangladesh
Jute production involves an often-invisible stage of processing: the removal of fibres from jute plant stalks. This work is done by extremely poor women from landless households, who work long hours with no protection from the hot sun, often standing in contaminated water.
Jute worker Rumi Begum chatting with her neighbours in Hat Gobindo Pur, Faridpur.
Credit: Traidcraft Exchange/GMB Akash
Between 2015 and 2019 we supported women jute workers to organise into self-help groups and associations, giving them greater power to call for support from local government. We also developed a powerful methodology to challenge discriminatory gender norms by way of facilitating open discussions between all household members.
As a result of the project, 95% of women participating in the project increased their wages in the jute sector by 30%. 93% reported an increase in decision-making on the use of household income, and 10% took up leadership roles in local government .
Project name: JEWEL (“Jute: Empowered Women, Ensured Livelihoods”)
Where did we work? Southern Bangladesh; Faridpur and Jessore districts
Who benefited? 5,000 women working in the jute sector and their families (approximately 20,000 people in total)
How long for? 4 years (1 April 2015 – 31 March 2019)
What were our aims?
To improve the livelihoods and well-being of 4,000 vulnerable women working in jute supply chains
To enable women to negotiate for better terms of work, fair wages and access to support and services
To provide women with training to increase and diversify their income
To reduce discrimination towards these women
Who did we work with? Our partner Ulani Srijoni Sangya with funding from Big Lottery Fund.