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What financial inclusion obstacle are we supporting low-income people to navigate? What financial capability are we attempting to enable or develop? What – gives you access to MFO’s select publications organized around the content of a financial education curriculum or training manual. You can also gain access to the full set of Global Financial Education Program materials here.

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Garment Worker Diaries: December 2020 Update

In this week’s Garment Worker Diaries blog, December 2020 Update, MFO updates the study through the end of December 2020. The good news is that the data we have received from our respondents in Bangladesh indicate that garment workers there finished the year healthier, less hungry, and working and earning more than was the case during the beginning of the pandemic this past Spring.

However, calls are still mounting for the Bangladeshi government to ready itself for another round of stimulus funding for garment producers as a buffer against still-lagging apparel orders. We don’t yet know if the readymade garment sector will face a second production crisis, but we’ll continue interviewing garment workers to find out what the word is on the ground.

While 2021 might provide some kind of return to normalcy, there are still challenges to progress in the new year, such as the gender wage gap, which we discuss in this week’s blog. Beyond anything, MFO hopes that 2021 allows us all to get back to the work of ensuring fairer wages, better treatment, and more supply-chain transparency for garment workers everywhere.

If there is anything in the blog that we did not cover and which you’d like to know about, please write us your thoughts at questions@workerdiaries.org. We can also pose questions directly to the workers themselves if there is anything specific you’d like more information about.


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Revisited: COVID-19 Precautions in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories

In this week’s Garment Worker Diaries blog, Revisited: COVID-19 Precautions in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories, we take a look back at the COVID-19 precautions factories were enacting in the early days of the pandemic, and compare those data to the results from another set of survey questions we just posed to workers in December.

Based on the workers’ observations, factories have relented somewhat in their enforcement of COVID-19 safety related practices over the past seven months. Garment workers too seem slightly less attuned to COVID-19 precautionary culture.

We also asked garment workers some new questions in December we hadn’t asked them in May, which included gauging their fear of losing their job due to COVID-19.

If there is anything in the blog that we did not cover and which you’d like to know about, please write us your thoughts at questions@workerdiaries.org. We can also pose questions directly to the workers themselves if there is anything specific you’d like more information about.


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Boarding the Digital Lifeboat

In our first Garment Worker Diaries blog for 2021, Boarding the Digital Lifeboat, we focus on the support, and perceived support, that garment workers in Bangladesh received last year as their wages were digitized. In the Spring of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic convinced the Bangladeshi government to send out monetary assistance payments to garment-producing factories, which would be passed on to workers. Among other factors, social distancing requirements obliged that these payments be paid out digitally, keeping workers from having to stand in line in close-quartered factories to receive cash payments. The Spring of 2020 would have marked the first time most of these workers received a digital wage instead of cash.


Businesses and governments can do a lot to ease that transition, and to instill trust in new processes. Our data suggest that there were support systems in place, but that perhaps the systems were not comprehensive enough to reach all workers; or, that the systems were not convincing enough to win the buy-in from all workers.


In a time when further government support for the garment industry (paid out digitally) may or may not be needed, there are important lessons to learn here about how factory managers and government officials can ensure that workers both acknowledge the assistance they are receiving, and are able to feel empowered to take part in a new way of life.


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November 2020 Update: Another Support Package for the Garment Industry?

In our final Garment Worker Diaries blog post for the year, November 2020 Update: Another Support Package for the Garment Industry?, we both summarize the status of the garment workers in our study through the end of November, and also discuss what some are predicting might be a tough winter for the RMG sector in Bangladesh.

In short, we aren’t seeing the signs of a second garment-production crisis as told to us through our respondents’ data. It might yet be just too early, and we might never see the signs if the government steps in to support the industry with a second stimulus package. But you can be sure that no matter what happens, our data will reflect what’s really going on among the workers, just as we captured the rapid uptick in digital wages in May, and the mini-prosperity the industry has buoyed upon over the summer and into the fall.

We do hope it will be a good winter, and a better year in 2021 for all.

In the meantime, take a look at where in the world, of all the places the garments they make are shipped to, garment workers would like to visit. Some of them would like to just stay home, which is completely relatable. If you have any questions for us, or the garment workers, please send them to questions@workerdiaries.org and we’ll be sure to pass them along.


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Keeping an Eye on the Gender Gap in Digital Empowerment

In this week’s Garment Workers Diaries blog we return to the theme of attitudes towards digital financial services as measured by customer empowerment and satisfaction.

As usual, we take care to mind the gap between female and male garment workers when it comes to feelings of positivity towards DFS. In our blog from a few weeks ago (“Cash or Bytes? Garment Workers’ Payment Preferences“) we demonstrated that female workers tend to prefer digital payments to cash payments less frequently than their male colleagues. For this week’s blog, we’ve tried to go a bit deeper to see if we can uncover any more hints as to why this might be the case.


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