CADTM South Asia annual meeting

In Bangladesh, globalization results in hardship for women workers

6 March by Maxime Perriot , Monower Mostafa

During the CADTM South Asia annual meeting in Kathmandu (Nepal) on 13 and 14 February 2024, Monower Mostafa commented on Bangladesh’s political, social and economic situation.

 Globalization has terrible consequences for workers

Bangladesh converted to the neoliberal ideology in the 1990s and gradually specialized in textile export, continually slashing prices and the wages of women workers

Bangladesh converted to the neoliberal ideology in the 1990s and gradually specialized in textile export, continually slashing prices and the wages of women workers (who make up the majority in the sector) to withstand global competition. Little by little, the country has been privatized and deregulated in this quest for competitiveness. Such deregulation has gone hand in hand with the erosion of workers’ rights, with more and more of them working in the so-called informal sector (i.e. with no rights at all).

The situation has also deteriorated for farmers, many of whom have moved to the cities and joined the ranks of textile workers, ever more numerous and increasingly being pitted against each other.

Facing this quandary – and with an inflation Inflation The cumulated rise of prices as a whole (e.g. a rise in the price of petroleum, eventually leading to a rise in salaries, then to the rise of other prices, etc.). Inflation implies a fall in the value of money since, as time goes by, larger sums are required to purchase particular items. This is the reason why corporate-driven policies seek to keep inflation down. level of 20% on food – the Left hardly exists in Bangladesh and the construction of a major social movement is difficult to imagine. Sheikh Hasina, who has been in power for the last 15 years and was reelected in early 2024 with no opposition (since the opposition boycotted the elections), concentrates all powers and her party has almost all the seats in Parliament. She applies a very tough policy to street vendors and delivery drivers.

  External dependence

Bangladesh is an indebted country. Its external debt amounts to $100 billion, 79% of which is owed to public creditors. The government pays 2 to 3 billion every year to repay its external debt. This is a lot, especially since loans were mainly contracted to finance megaprojects that do not benefit the people.

We should remember that Russia, India, and China are the main bilateral creditors of Bangladesh’s external public debt. These countries are competing for investments and influence in the country.

Read also : Microcrédit au Bangladesh : hold-up de la Grameen Bank et consorts sur les villages ruraux

Bangladesh is facing a significant debt burden from external creditors. The country relies heavily on strong foreign currencies, which are predominantly provided by diaspora remittances and textile exports. These two sources account for about 80% of the country’s exports. Unfortunately, this dependence creates a situation where Bangladesh’s ability to repay its debt and finance imports is tied to a sector where the wages of the population, particularly women workers, are unacceptably low. This highlights how neoliberal capitalism functions.

Monower Mostafa has stated that the current situation is critical and we should take immediate action to address the issue of debt, which has not received much attention in Bangladesh’s political discourse. He also emphasized that capital flight and tax evasion are major political concerns in the country.

Other articles in English by Maxime Perriot (11)

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