Women in Slums, an UN study

Published on UN Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, by Dulal Biswas Bangladesh, 13 Jan 2005.

A large portion of the city dwellers of Dhaka and other urban cities of Bangladesh are Young Slum Women. Sudden increase of the demand in the export of the garments in the 80’s and early 90’s, many entrepreneurs had been becoming interested to set up new and new garment factories in the major cities with transportation facilities to abroad. Dhaka and Chittagong were mainly chosen for the purpose and as a result a huge influx of typical Young Slum Women s had been observed in those establishments from different areas of the country.

The typical Young Slum Women s are mainly girls and women of young age. It is usual feature in the streets of Dhaka and Chittagong City to observe large number of those workers in the morning and evening going and returning from the factories. Undoubtedly this group of inhabitants deserves especial attention in the different perspectives of social interactions.


Typically they alone already formed the largest women working professional groups in our society and assumed to adjust varieties of equations in the country’s socio-economic process. Also they are still the lowest paid workers and represent lower economic class. Their education level is low and perceptions of whereabouts of the different issues including health are negligible.

For the reason described, their awareness about different health hazards is almost non-existing. Recently, GOB, BGMEA, ILO and UNICEF have introduced a handful of activities for their welfare.

Large in number, low in income and low in knowledge and education, they constitute one of the vulnerable most or risky most groups in terms of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Their lacking knowledge and behavior without awareness expose them to greater risk to be involved in the procedures involving infection and transmission of HIV/AIDS and STDs.

In a study by Caldwell and Indrani Pieris (1999), it has been revealed that about 52% of the married men and 47% of the unmarried men ever having experienced extramarital sex. They collect their partners in the community. In the study we found girlfriends, neighbors and colleagues, relatives, maidservants, prostitutes and to a lesser extent the convinced males had been collected by the respondents.

Among them girlfriends and colleagues and relatives are accounted for 54 percent and 39 percent in unmarried men and 49 percent and 26 percent in married men respectively. In the practical situation, it is fairly possible of involvement of Young Slum Women s in the context. Therefore ideally Young Slum Women s have been chosen for behavior change communication community based intervention to change their behavior minimizing risk of contamination and transmission of HIV/AIDS and STDs.

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