While more and more women have been entering the job market every year—both formal and informal—they are still facing serious wage discrimination. A Daily Star report published on January 16, 2019 revealed that women workers at the brick kilns in Lalmonirhat district have been getting half the wage their male counterparts get despite doing the same hard work. The situation is the same for all women workers in the 47 brick kilns of the district. This is fairly representative of the situation countrywide.
What has been known from the report is that the women are getting lower wages (while a male worker gets Tk 800 per day, a woman worker gets Tk 350 to Tk 400 per day) than men because the owners of the brick kilns know very well that these women have no alternative means of earning a livelihood. This is outrageous.
However, not only in the brick kilns, women workers in the construction and agriculture sectors across the country are also paid less than men. According to one study, gender pay gap was 57 percent in 2017 and 54 percent in 2016 in Bangladesh, for the same work. And this gap is far worse in the informal sector. As nearly 90 percent of jobs in Bangladesh are in the informal sectors, according to an ILO report, the extent of exploitation of women workers is easily understood.
The government should come up with some strict policies and enforce the minimum wage laws to eliminate this wide wage discrimination. Besides, there is no alternative to educating the women workers about their rights. The bottom line is, wage discrimination must be eliminated if we are serious about women empowerment and eradicating gender inequality.