Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Hyper‐Precarious Lives: Understanding Migration, Global Supply Chain, and Gender Dynamics in Bangladesh

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Abstract:  This article examines the lived experiences of precarity in Bangladesh’s ready‐made garments (RMG) industry, focusing on female migrant workers employed in Dhaka and surrounding industrial areas. Over the past three decades, the growth of the RMG sector has attracted economically disadvantaged rural women, distancing them from their traditional domestic and agricultural roles. This sector predominantly employs young women due to their perceived flexibility, low wages, and limited union involvement. Additionally, their status as “unskilled” workers in the lowest echelons of a gender‐stratified labour market, along with the influence of socio‐cultural power dynamics, constrains their capacity to negotiate their positions effectively. Drawing on in‐depth ethnographic research conducted in Dhaka and Gazipur, this article unravels the intricate interplay between insecure labour conditions, the impact of the global supply chain, and gender dynamics. It underscores the pivotal significance of socio‐cultural power dynamics in understanding the vulnerability experienced by female migrant labourers. We assert that a comprehensive understanding of precarious work requires recognising the inherent link between precarious employment and precarious life within the broader context of socio‐cultural power dynamics, gender norms, and societal relations.

Keywords:  expendable labour; gender inequality; global supply chain; health; intersectionality; ready‐made‐garment industry; well‐being; young female migrant



© Hosna J. Shewly, Ellen Bal, Runa Laila. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.