Background to the project

During the Covid-19 pandemic, media and civil society reports have highlighted that many big retailers have cancelled their orders and delayed payments for orders already delivered for estimated 1,200 factories, leaving around 2.8 million workers, mostly women, at risk of being laid off without pay. To meet orders that were still on the books, many workers were forced to continue to work through the pandemic, leaving them at risk of catching the Coronavirus.

A research team led by Professor M. Azizul Islam at  the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with Traidcraft Exchange, is working on a project to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

The research aims to analyse the impact of the pandemic on women workers, identify gender policy and regulatory gaps for preventing exploitation, and make research-informed recommendations for post-Covid gender policy measures to prevent modern slavery within the garment sector. It also focuses on redeveloping corporate accountability measures in relation to the rights of women workers and mechanisms to eliminate modern slavery from a gender perspective, including creating a sustainable social safety net within the global clothing supply chains operating in Bangladesh.

The team surveys compliance auditors, and interview workers, key stakeholders and gender policy actors within the garment sector in Bangladesh. The project’s ultimate aim is to provide practical recommendations for the governments and the garment industry in Bangladesh, in the UK and globally, to ensure that factories in Bangladesh are gender-friendly workplaces; that the terms and conditions of employment meet international standards and garment factory workers no longer face exploitative practices.

This project was funded by the UK AHRC as part of the UK Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) call for research on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on modern slavery (AHRC Grant Ref: AH/V009788/1; 2020-2021).

Project Team

Lead Investigator

Co-Investigators

Resources

Policy Brief/s

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Case videos

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Related prior studies

Relevant Media and blogs