default-output-block.skip-main
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

The BoF Podcast: Activist Kalpona Akter on Improving the Lives of Bangladeshi Garment Workers

Speaking at BoF VOICES, the founder of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity outlines her campaign to establish fairer, safer working conditions across the garment industry.
Kalpona Akter | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — Becoming the family breadwinner at 12 years old, earning only $6 a month for 400 hours of service, in an industry with no job security and an epidemic of gender based violence; this is the story of activist Kalpona Akter — and such experiences remain a reality for some four million other garment workers in Bangladesh.

Akter's life "completely changed" when she attended a four-hour external training class, where she learned about workers' entitlement to better wages, hours, job security and the right to organise. Upon forming a union with other workers in her factory, however, she was fired and blacklisted from the industry.

29 years on, Akter is the founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, pushing for fundamental changes to the working conditions of those in garment factories.

Bangladesh is the world's second-biggest producer of clothes, but the plight of garment workers only captured global attention with the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in 2013. In the wake of the disaster, which killed 1,138 people, hundreds of corporations signed a legally binding fire and building safety accord that covered more than 1,600 factories across Bangladesh.

But workers remain at risk in Bangladesh, with thousands taking to the streets earlier this year to protest wage levels, and the safety accord at risk of losing its right to operate in the country.

To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link.

Subscribe to BoF Professional for unlimited access to BoF articles, plus exclusive benefits for members.

To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

© 2021 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
© 2022 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions and Privacy policy.