“Swimming Against the Tide: Women Doing ‘Men’s’ Work in Bangladesh” (Gallery Gold, Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal, India from March 14-17, 2020)
GlobalGRACE Bangladesh arranged a four-day long photography exhibition entitled “Swimming Against the Tide: Women Doing ‘Men’s’ Work in Bangladesh” at Gallery Gold, Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal, India from March 14-17, 2020. We invited female construction workers from Kolkata, various NGOs, and academics from several universities situated in Kolkata, student groups and individuals with interest in the life of female construction workers to attend to opening.
The exhibition was comprised of the following components: 12 photo stories based on the life histories of our female construction worker participants, 14 Worker’s Rights Manifesto points that emerged from our participants, and we also added 14 visual images that depict the context of the manifesto demands. Visitors were provided with the printed copies of manifesto and were invited to respond to the exhibition by contributing their own worker’s demands to the manifesto.
We invited a group of female construction workers working in Kolkata to inaugurate the exhibition. They were very enthusiastic about the stories of our participants and keen to discuss and add to the Manifesto based on their own shared experiences of working in construction in India. Following the launch of the exhibition the research team also had the opportunity to conducted a focus group discussion over lunch with the female construction workers of Kolkata. They talked about the manifesto points, articulated their feelings about the exhibition, and also focused on how closely related their own experiences were with those of their Bangladeshi counterparts. They emphasised that despite the geographical distance, they all share some common experiences of deprivation and gender-based exploitation.