Kalpona Akter

Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS)

Kalpona Akter is the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labor rights advocacy organizations, and is herself a former child garment worker; she started working when she was 12 years old. In the age of 16 she become union president in her shop floor and later years she fired and blacklisted in the industry wise, later she join with unions as full timer and then never stopped. She is also President of Bangladesh Garment & Industrial Workers Federation-BGIWF, a national trade union center.

BCWS is regarded by the national and international labor rights movement and by multinational apparel companies as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in the country. Akter is an internationally-recognized labor rights advocate and has traveled widely to speak about the deplorable conditions that Bangladeshi garment workers face every day. For years Ms. Akter campaigns for fair wages, safe work places, and the free to exercise freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. The government and factory owners have targeted her for this work, including trumping-up charges against her organization, putting her in prison and forcing government de-registration of the group but she never stopped and keeps fighting for a dignified job for workers. Over the years she has been interviewed extensively by local and international media like ABC, BBC, CBC, CBS, In These Times, International Business Times, New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, Salon, The Nation, and Wall Street Journal and including many more Asian and European medias.

Human Rights Watch honors Kalpona Akter’s dedication to championing the rights of working women, and all workers in Bangladesh’s garment factories. She has received The Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2016.

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