Why has the number of women working in Bangladesh increased while it has decreased in India?

Date:

Why has the number of women working in Bangladesh

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Saturday, October 15, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • I contend that while female employment has increased in Bangladesh, it has decreased in India due to the latter’s economy’s more significant job creation.

  • Bangladesh has a comparable high reliance on the family but has significantly had more formal employment creation.

  • I contend that the authoritarian administrations of Bangladesh have encouraged business expansion by keeping labour costs below the level of marginal productivity.

  • Bangladesh’s oppression of workers by keeping labour costs low, successive administrations have aimed to increase export competitiveness.

  • Governments in Bangladesh have kept labour costs low, perhaps below marginal productivity, by suppressing organised labour.

India and Bangladesh share a lot of similarities in terms of geography, development, and culture. So why has India’s female labour force participation declined while Bangladesh’s has increased?

Figure 1: Female involvement in the labour force

Figure 1: Female labor force participation

Female employment generally decreases and then increases with economic development on a global scale (Figure 2). However, India is still at the bottom of this curve; the involvement of urban female workers is still flat.

Figure 2: Female involvement in the labour force

Figure 2: Female labor force participation

Bangladesh and India are both victims of “the Patrilineal Trap.” Because women’s poor wages rarely make up for men’s loss of respect, their labour force participation is still significantly lower than the global norm.

Even in modernising cities, this preference for homemakers is still present (as I learned through qualitative research in Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bengal and Putna). Mothers who stay home tend to their sons’ needs by cooking and cleaning. Men grow accustomed to doing women’s caregiving. South Asian married women’s extraordinarily high levels of housekeeping, which in turn limit economic opportunities, are explained by cultural preferences.

Families in Bangladesh work hard to limit women’s sexuality, independence, and mobility. To preserve virginity, girls are married relatively young. Domestic violence is more likely to occur in women who participate in savings clubs or work in garment factories. Men frequently attempt to limit the income of women. Most people think men have better employment rights than women (see Figure 3). There is no reason to believe that women’s work has increased in Bangladesh, a country that is particularly pro-gender equality.

Figure 3: South Asian views on gender

Figure 4: Gender beliefs in South Asia

Bangladeshis typically forego women’s earnings when they immigrate to the UK, where there are more economic chances. Only 39% of British women from Pakistan and Bangladesh are employed. Muslim women generally have low employment rates. Women of British Indian descent work a lot: (69 percent, almost converging white British women, 74 percent). Thus, Indians seem to be more in favour of female employment.

I contend that while female employment has increased in Bangladesh, it has decreased in India due to the latter’s economy’s more significant job creation. Women make enough money to make up for men’s loss of honour.

India’s rising unemployment

Employment growth elasticity has been relatively low over time compared to other nations and India. This results in a quiet demand for women’s labour.

Table 1: Employment’s growth elasticity

growth elasticity

In India, the level of production has not changed at all. In businesses with fewer than ten employees, more than 75 percent of workers are employed. Regarding the informal employment percentage, India is an exception on the global stage. Even though India’s economy has expanded, this has only marginally reduced the number of people working in agriculture or other informal sectors.

Dependence on family is increased by endemic precarity. In their jati, men could be hesitant to reject planned marriages.

But why has progress in India led to relatively few (formal) jobs? And why do so many Indians still work in low-productivity small family businesses? There are various economic papers about India. Either blood ties or labour laws are at fault.

Bangladesh has a comparable high reliance on the family but has significantly had more formal employment creation. I contend that the authoritarian administrations of Bangladesh have encouraged business expansion by keeping labour costs below the level of marginal productivity.

Bangladesh’s oppression of workers

By keeping labour costs low, successive administrations have aimed to increase export competitiveness. Understaffing labour inspectorates, allowing industry self-regulation and stifling independent labour movements with onerous legislation and abusive police tactics are just a few of the tactics used, along with coopting more compliant trade union leaders.

Under martial law in the 1970s, unions were prohibited. The registration of unions still required support from 30% of workers in each firm, which is challenging to achieve in large enterprises, even after they were made legal. Unionization is not permitted in export processing zones (which are also exempted from national labour legislation). The situation is not much better outside of these zones. Labour ministries without personnel or interest rarely crack down on abuses. In 2007, in a state of emergency, worker mobilisation was flatly prohibited. Police brutality, including rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, arrests, and torture, followed the protests. Additionally, producers obstruct unionisation through hired goons, threats, blacklisting, dismissals, and fake criminal accusations.

Workers’ fear of violent retaliation may explain the meager unionisation rates. They rarely encounter effective opposition, underestimate broader support, and quietly carry out their duties.

Governments in Bangladesh have kept labour costs low, perhaps below marginal productivity, by suppressing organised labour. Businesses have taken on more employees, including women.

In India, however, there are more formidable obstacles to company growth. Companies with fewer than ten employees are not required to provide paid leave, pensions, or health insurance. They have the right to fire employees with no warning or severance pay. The extortionate corruption of labour inspectors adds to the cost of this legislation. For every extra employee over nine that an establishment has, the wage is increased by an additional 35%. Employers routinely outsource work to staff based at home to avoid these costs.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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