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WP 2

Women Working in Men’s Worlds

Visualising female construction workers and the

quest for more equitable futures in Sylhet, Bangladesh

At dawn, women construction workers wait with their toolkits, hoping to be selected by 'sardars' for daily labour. Their kit demonstrates that they are experienced workers: a tukri (basket) for moving rubble, an axe, and a tiffin carry (lunch box) that signals: “I am here to work, not to eat your food”. The tiffin carries are often empty. The women also carry a paner bata (box of betel leaf and nuts), which they chew to suppress hunger. They work for up to 12 hours a day, receiving a lower wage than male labourers: around 350-400 taka (£3) per day.
Image:  Suzanne Clisby

 

Key Research Questions

WP 2 explores how collaborative film and photography led and curated by a group of female construction workers can be used to generate public awareness and make visible the intersecting inequalities they face and that shape their everyday struggles for survival. We ask:

 

  1. How does women’s work and visibility in the construction sector challenge existing gender regimes in Bangladesh and globally?
     

  2. What does/ might equality and well-being look and feel like to women construction workers in Bangladesh?
     

  3. When and where do women feel dis/empowered? And how do differences between the women in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, disability/illness, age affect these feelings?
     

  4. How can arts based praxis enable marginalised women construction workers to become more reflexive and agentic knowers?

Work Package Objectives

  1. To build research capacity and capabilities of interdisciplinary, feminist researchers.
     

  2. To create collaborative partnerships between academics, NGOs, female construction workers, and publics in Bangladesh with regards to women’s work and wellbeing.
     

  3. To create a research space wherein female construction workers feel safe and enabled to convey their varied experiences of intersecting inequalities and resultant impacts on their wellbeing.
     

  4. To use film making, photography and material curation and related training with, for and led by participants to elicit artistic representations of gendered precarity, struggles and achievements.
     

  5. To build pathways to impact and enable the sharing of creative and critical cultural competencies in support of women’s aspirations and in producing new public cultures of equality. 

Researchers

Tanzina Choudhury

Shahjalal University of Science & Technology

Sumena Sultana

Shahjalal University of Science & Technology

 

Nazmul Haque

IDEA

 

Suzanne Clisby

Goldsmiths, University of London

 

For further information about WP 2, please contact Tanzina Choudhury <tanzinachoudhury@gmail.com> or Suzanne Clisby <s.clisby@gold.ac.uk>

Key Outputs

  • Training in collaborative filmmaking and photography
     

  • International academic workshop at SUST on Women Working in Men’s Worlds
     

  • Participant led community festival and exhibition
     

  • NGO led stakeholder workshop and contribution to NGO research methods toolkit
     

  • Co-authored academic publications
     

  • Contribution to the Global Museum of Equalities  and the GlobalGRACE online course