Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendro (BNSK) is an association of marginalized women workers registered with Department/Directorate of Women Affairs under Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. It is an organization of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labor or small businesses/enterprises. They do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits like workers in the formal/organized sector. They are the unprotected labor force of our country. Constituting 93% of the labor force, these are workers of the informal/unorganized sector. Of the female labor force in Bangladesh like other countries of SAARC more than 94% are in the informal/unorganized sector. However their work is not counted and hence remains invisible. In fact, women workers themselves remain uncounted, undercounted and invisible.
BNSK’s main goals are to organize women workers for their employment with rights and welfare in terms of Dignity, Respect, Recognition and Remuneration like formal sector. Employment means employment whereby workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security with health care, child care and shelter. BNSK organizes women workers to ensure that each of them obtains full employment. By self-reliance we mean that women should be autonomous and self-reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision-making ability.
At BNSK we organize women workers to achieve their goals of full employment and self reliance through the strategy of struggle and development. The struggle is against the many constraints and limitations imposed on them by society and the economy, while development activities strengthen women’s bargaining power and offer them new alternatives. Practically, the strategy is carried out through the joint action of union and cooperatives. …………. thinking is the guiding force for BNSK’s poor, self-employed members in organizing for social change. We follow the principles of satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), sarvadharma (integrating all faiths, all people) and khadi (propagation of local employment and self reliance).
BNSK is both an organization and a movement. The BNSK movement is enhanced by its being a confluence of three movements : the labor movement, the cooperative movement and the women’s movement. But it is also a movement of self-employed workers: their own, home-grown movement with women as the leaders. Through their own movement women become strong and visible. Their tremendous economic and social contributions become recognized With globalization, liberalization and other economic changes, there are both new opportunities as well as threats to some traditional areas of employment.
More than ever, our members are ready to face the winds of change. They know that they must organize to build their own strength and to meet challenges. There are still millions of women who remain in poverty and are exploited, despite their long hours of hard labor. They bear the force of the changes in our country and must be brought into the mainstream, so as to avail of the new opportunities that are developing with regard to employment.
Also there is much to be done in terms of strengthening women’s leadership, their confidence, their bargaining power within and outside their homes and their representation in policy-making and decision-making fora. It is their issues, their priorities and needs which should guide and mould the development process in our country. Toward this end, BNSK has been supporting its members in capacity-building and in developing their own economic organizations