Indigenous beauticians in hardship: activists
Rights activists have pointed out that women working in the beauty industry of the country, many of whom belong to indigenous communities, have been in severe hardship amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The comments came from an online seminar organised by Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network on Saturday, on the current state of indigenous women who were employed at beauty parlours.
Beauticians from indigenous communities described how they have been let go from their job during the pandemic, and are facing hardship.
"We are not getting any salary for more than two months. Almost all the parlours are closed at present. I could not pay my house rent due to this situation. I have taken this profession to support my family and my education. However, my future is now completely uncertain," said Emelia Maji, an indigenous beautician.
Sabina Rangma, another beautician and a victim of the current situation says, "A large number of indigenous women, who have been working in beauty parlours all over the country, have lost jobs during this pandemic. We demand incentives and job security from the government."
Rights activists present in the seminar also agreed on these issues and expressed their concerns.
Eminent human rights activist Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said, "We are deeply worried about the plight of the beauticians from indigenous communities. They made immense contributions to the beauty industry in our country. The indigenous women should be able to find other professions and opportunities. The government should come forward to make different kinds of opportunities accessible to them."
At the end of the seminar, the participants came up with a nine-point recommendation to ensure employment rights of the beauticians from indigenous communities.
These recommendations are: formally recognising beauty salon sector as an industry by publishing the announcement in the government gazette, enforcing labour law, providing incentive to the beauticians, make a list of all the sacked beauticians and ensure their employment, ensure health benefits for the beauticians, ensure a dignified working environment, ensure their reproductive health rights, ensure housing facilities and including day-care facilities in the beauty parlours.
Falguni Tripura, coordinator of BIWN moderated the seminar.