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Seamstresses cannot live on their wages

Textile production is the largest export industry in Bangladesh. The sector accounts for 85% of the country's export earnings and provides jobs for 4.4 million people. 80% of them are women. The minimum wage in the textile industry is ₹896 per month, but estimates show that textile workers need far more than double that, at least ₹2379 per month, to earn enough to live a decent life, a so-called living wage.

Sabina's story

Sabina Yesmin in the video above is one of the women who are paid far too little for their work. She has worked in the textile industry for 12 years and supports three children alone. She sews and cuts collars for sweaters and is expected to produce 2000 collars per day. With her salary of €935 per month, she has nothing left after paying her bills and sending money to the children living with her parents. Nor can she afford education for her three children.

'When I get sick, I take out a loan and get treatment. Then I have to pay back the loan when I get my salary. I suffer."

Sabina Yesmin

"Because of the requirements to reach the quota, I can eat sometimes and sometimes not. It is difficult to drink water and go to the toilet. They take advantage of me if I don't meet the quota. It happens to everyone."

Sabina Yesmin

Sabina Yesmin, Bangladesh. Photo: Fabeha Monir/Oxfam

Sabina knows that they need a higher salary.

"We can live if we get a living wage. Otherwise it will be difficult for us and we cannot survive."

Sabina Yesmin

She has a message for anyone buying clothes made in Bangladesh:

"I want to thank them for happily wearing our clothes. We rejoice in their joy. They should stand with us, allow us to work, and if we get a higher wage, we will be happy."

Sabina Yesmin

Sabina Yesmin, Bangladesh. Photo: Fabeha Monir/Oxfam

The "What She Makes" campaign

75 million women work in the textile industry, but only 2% of them receive a living wage. We want to change that.

Oxfam's 'What she makes' campaign demands that major clothing companies pay a living wage to the women who make their clothes. Together, with our allies and Oxfam's direct contact with companies, we are calling on clothing companies to create a fairer and more equal clothing industry.