Rapid Wage Digitization in the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Sector During COVID-19
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
This report presents results from a study of the rapid digitization of low-income women workers’ wages in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result of a government-issued stimulus package. This policy change catalyzed the opening of 2.2 million digital accounts for garment workers, the majority of which are women, and resulted in sustained payroll digitization for half of the workers in export-oriented factories who had previously received wages in cash. We examine the key barriers and enablers to wage digitization before, during, and after the stimulus, and analyze women worker and factory experiences with and perceptions regarding digital pay. This enables us to identify ongoing challenges and opportunities to scale and sustain future wage digitization in the RMG sector in Bangladesh, and to make its impacts more meaningful for women workers and factories.