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Actions held in memory of women workers killed in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the Philippines and Turkey, the World March of Women participated in street actions held in memory of the more than 1,100 women workers who died in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24th, 2013 when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. The incident left another 2000 people injured. The building housed five factories that produced clothing for internationally renowned brand names, including Benetton, Carrefour and Walmart. The day before it caved in, workers had informed authorities of cracks in the building's structure, yet no precautionary measures were taken.
Violations of the building code - like building eight floors when only six had been authorized; the use of low quality materials; excess weight from the factories' machines, air conditioners, generators, boilers and the raw materials and finished products that were accumulating in the building - as well as the lack of State inspections are all factors that contributed to the incident.

In the aftermath of the tragic event, a Rana Plaza Coordinating Committee was created, which brings together the main actors of Bangladesh's garment sector, the government, survivors and the victims' families and dependents. A series of agreements on improving conditions in the workplace were signed. A fund has also been set up to provide compensation to families and to cover the medical costs of rehabilitation treatment for survivors. Resources for the fund were to come from contributions from the transnational brand name buyers of the products in Bangladesh. However, as of early March 2014, no compensation had been paid to the victims and their family. This is why the “Clean Clothes Campaign” launched a call for action to pressure the brand names to pay their debt. The campaign includes an online petition. To sign on, go to::

For more information, visit:
Control over women's bodies and work in sweatshop factories

The case of the factories in Bangladesh is symbolic of how neoliberal capitalism allies with patriarchy to generate profit for a few and to undermine rights won through years of struggle by workers. Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter in the world. The sector employs approximately 3 million people, of whom 80% are women - a situation that can also be found in several other countries.

The sweatshop industry prefers to hire women due to the traits they have, such as patience, dexterity, accuracy and discipline, which allow them to carry out delicate tasks for long periods of time. Contrary to what is commonly believed, these skills do not come naturally to women; they are the result of gender socialization imposed on women. What is more, despite their greater capacity to do certain kinds of industrial work, women receive lower salaries than men who do the same work. The industries that produce clothing, fruit, vegetables, flowers, electronic components, disposable cups and plates, and other products, subject women - especially young women with no experience and, preferably, no children - to 12-hour workdays, paying them minimum wage and forcing them to work non-stop, under constant threats of sexual abuse, and with no right to health, social security or daycare.

There are other forms of organizing production that, like the sweatshops, contribute to the fragmentation of the workforce and increase flexibility in labor relations - namely those employed by outsourcing firms. These companies outsource certain tasks to women who work in isolation in their homes and earn very little. They do so in order to reconcile these tasks with their domestic work and caregiving. To add to all of this, any attempt to unionize is met with repression. Companies compile the names of activist workers on a list of people they do not recommend for hiring. When the workers of a given country strengthen their level of organization and their capacity to demand their rights, investors in the sweatshop industry threaten to close the factories and move to another country where they can continue to exploit workers and make more profit. Bangladesh's garment sector is facing this kind of threat at the current moment.

On the road to the 4th International Action

During our 9th International Meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, we agreed to organize another 24-hours of feminist solidarity on April 24th, 2015, on the two-year anniversary of the accident in Bangladesh. This will be a common day of action of the Fourth International Action and will allow us to denounce and expose the actors promoting oppression against women, especially transnational corporations that control our bodies in different ways and criminalize our resistance. Details on how we will organize the Fourth International Action will be defined at the International Committee meeting to be held between May 23rd and 26th of this year in Maputo, Mozambique.


Last modified 2014-05-12 04:58 PM
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