Journal Article

The effects of migration and work on marriage of female garment workers in Bangladesh

This paper examines the effects of migration and entry into garment work on marriage for young women in Bangladesh. The data comes from a study of female garment workers and their non-working peers conducted in 1996–97 in Bangladesh. In a country where women traditionally do not work in formal employment, and enter arranged marriages soon after puberty, the rapidly expanding garment industry offers scope for social change. The industry employs mainly young women migrating from rural areas. Previous research in Bangladesh and other countries suggests that female migrants maintain financial ties with their families in rural areas for reasons of economic and emotional security. This paper shows that many workers contribute financially to their natal families in order to maintain social networks and maximise security in marriage. Concerns regarding security lead workers to express traditional aspirations for marriage. However, weak social networks and changes in living arrangements and household structure associated with migration often dictate that migrants adopt non-traditional and less secure marriage arrangements.