EVOLUTION OF THE CHANNEL
The project began in 2016 when Microfinance Opportunities, in collaboration with local research firms in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, collected data from 180 women in each country every week for a period of a year. The project entered its second, scaled up phase in 2018 when it began collecting data from over 1,300 garment workers in Bangladesh. The project is currently in its third phase as we continue weekly phone-based data collection with 1,300 garment workers in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 crisis. The majority of the workers are women and many of them have been participating in the project for over two years. The data will result in a major improvement in the transparency of global supply chains, and will help us understand how garment workers cope during crises, with an eye to how digital financial services might play a role in alleviating economic concerns.
THE CHANNEL TODAY
GWD is a great complement to, but different from, other worker voice initiatives. We collect data outside of the factory setting, at a time and place where workers feel safe and at ease. Through our weekly interviews with workers, we are able to build a picture over time of their lives and work conditions and build trust with the workers. The methodology is particularly suited for women who may be less comfortable with traditional worker voice mechanisms that operate within or in partnership with factories, given the negative gender dynamics often prevalent in their workplaces. The channel, based on trust and regular communication, is a much-needed safe space for women to share different aspects of their lives and report sensitive issues such as instances of abuse, discrimination or harassment without fear of retaliation or judgment.
This project is currently led by Microfinance Opportunities in collaboration with SANEM in Bangladesh. A number of other organizations have also been involved along the way, including: BRAC and Bangladesh Country Office of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Bangladesh; TNS in Cambodia; and Morsel Ltd. in India. Laudes Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have provided financial support along with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dhaka.