How we keep women workers in poverty

Next time you have a few minutes I would urge you to read ActionAid’s report Who Pays? How British supermarkets are keeping women workers in poverty, which describes how those low, low supermarket prices impact the workforce in the developing world.

The report highlights how women, in particular, are more likely to be negatively affected by the rock-bottom prices of food and clothing for sale in the UK. Women make up a large proportion of the clothing and fresh produce workers yet they are more likely to be employed on casual, piece-rate work with lower wages and longer hours.

Three case studies are presented:

  • the clothing industry in Bangladesh– where the majority of workers are young women earning as little as 5p per hour
  • banana production in Costa Rica– where price wars have resulted in increased job insecurity, longer hours and less pay
  • and the cashew trade in India– the luxury nut that exposes workers to chemicals during shelling and roasting

So I know when we go shopping we have to strike a careful balance between what we buy and our bank account but what about taking a minute to think about supporting the economy of a country and the rights of its workers?

The next time I see a T-shirt for £2.99 in the supermarket I might just think again…

One thought on “How we keep women workers in poverty

  1. Jackie Mugah October 26, 2007 / 11:17 am

    I am quite excited about this particular article for three reasons. These are that i am a young woman, i have been born and raised in a developing country, and lastly because effort should be made in alleviating poverty, a scourge felt mostly by women. Decisions and actions to make a change in any area that influences women’s lives is sure to have an effect. It would be good to have products bearing information on their production the same way that products whose sales contribute to charity do. That might help. I do believe that a better life for women translates to a better life for everybody.

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