Kalpona Akter: The voice of former child workers


Ahead of World Day against Child Labour on 12 June, we share Kalpona Akter’s story ­– a factory floor worker at age 12, she is now Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity. Her story is featured in UN Women’s flagship report Progress of the World’s Women: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, as a Story of Change. 

“On the morning of 24 April 2013, thousands of factory workers went to work in the eight-storey Rana Plaza commercial building just outside of Dhaka. A few hours later the building collapsed, killing 1,137 people and injuring a further 2,500 workers. Most of those who died that morning were women.

Women make up 80 per cent of the 4.2-million-strong workforce in the garment export industry and, for many, these jobs are the first opportunity for economic independence and a job outside the home. Yet the Rana Plaza tragedy underlined what a double-edged sword this employment has proved to be. The industry has created tragically unsafe, exploitative and dangerous workplaces where women workers face poor pay, inequality, harassment and violence.

Today, while they are four out of five workers on the production lines of Bangladesh’s 5,000 textile factories, only 1 in 20 supervisors is a woman.…” Read more

Kalpona’s story has also been featured in the Thomson Reuters Foundation news site.