Forida is a 22-year-old sewing machine operator in a clothing factory in Dahka, Bangladesh. She often works 12-hour days producing clothes for brands such as H&M and Target. Sometimes, during busy production cycles, the hours are even longer.
“Last year, I worked until midnight for a full month,” Forida explained. “I used to feel sick all the time. I was stressed about my son and then after I got home from work, I had to clean the house and cook and then go back to work again the next morning. I would go to bed at 2am and get up at 5.30am each day.”
Even with the combined income from her husband, Forida’s family barely had enough food to eat.
Meanwhile, a CEO from a top clothing brand would have to work only four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh earns in a lifetime.
Forida’s story is included in a report released today by the anti-poverty organization Oxfam. The report, Reward Work, Not Wealth, reveals how the global economy empowers the richest 1% while hundreds of millions of people struggle to survive.
Oxfam found that 82% of the global wealth produced last year went to the richest 1% of the world’s population. In other words, four out of every five dollars of wealth created in 2017 went into the pockets of the 1%.
While a new billionaire was created every other day, the 3.7 billion people making up the poorest half of the world’s population saw no increase in their wealth last year.
“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”
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