Farzana, Tania, Nasrin, Hafiza, and Runa are five girls whose mothers work in the garment sector in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The garment industry is the largest employer of women in Bangladesh, known for its tough working conditions and low wages, and widely covered in international media following factory collapses, including that of the Rana Plaza in 2013. But what do girls growing up in the sector have to say about their experiences?
In ‘Ami, Amar, Ma’, the five girls capture their life, and their relationship with their hard working mothers, through their own lenses.
After conducting photography training with women in factories in Dhaka and Gazipur, we wanted to further our work by providing video production training to garment workers’ daughters.
With partner Rainbow Collective, we reached out to 5 girls at Nagorik Day Care Centre in Dhaka, which aims to provide further routes into education to children of garment workers.
Farzana, Nasrin, Tania, Hafiza, and Runa – 5 girls aged 7 to 15 years old – were given material and training to cast, write, and shoot a film about their own lives. They also cast and shot their own film, recruiting their friends to play their own role.
Within a few weeks, the 20-minute documentary, Ami, Amar, Ma, was born, giving an intimate view of the girls’ lives, with very minimum input from the trainers.
Female garment workers account for 80% of the garment workforce in Bangladesh, and are paid a minimum wage of £2.40 per day to produce clothes for western brands. Though the industry provides valuable work opportunities for women to secure financial and social independence, their poor working conditions and very low wage also affect their lives in many aspects, particularly their physical health and living conditions.
The garment industry is not only challenging for its workers, their children often suffer the consequences of long working hours and poor working conditions. Perhaps most impacted are the garment workers’ daughters, who have to pick up home chores and caring responsibilities at a young age, and are less likely to attend school, in a country where educational attainment is the second lowest in the world.
This project was funded at a pitch event organised by the Funding Network and hosted by Channel 4. It was commissioned, supervised and co-produced by Lensational, and facilitated by documentary production company Rainbow Collective, an organisation, which has historically worked on participatory projects with communities in the garment industry in Dhaka, including in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.