Nurjan's Story #SheWearsTheCost 

Most 26-year-olds in Australia are just starting to really live their lives, spending their time with friends, going on dates, starting their careers, and exploring the world. Nurjan, a garment industry worker in Bangladesh, lives a very different life; working an average of 60 hours a week as a senior machine operator and caring for her three brothers.


Her day starts at 5am, cooking for herself and her family, then she works from 7am until around 9-10pm, when she buys groceries on her way home and cooks again for her family.

“This is what my life looks like. I do not have any time for myself or for entertainment. At the weekend, I have household chores such as cleaning and laundry,” she said.

Nurjan was married at a very young age, but is now separated from her husband. In an industry with already widespread power imbalances and where 80% of workers have experienced or witnessed sexual violence and harassment, she believes this has put her at greater risk of abuse.

“Because I am a single woman and not guarded by any man, my supervisor thought I was vulnerable and exposed. He used to touch me at work,” she said.

In her role as a senior machine operator, Nurjan has been working under tough conditions for nearly a decade. Women make up the majority of garment workers, yet they have no separate toilets and face regular abuse and sexual harassment from male supervisors.

After attending a Workers’ Cafe, supported by ActionAid Bangladesh, Nurjan says she has learnt about labour laws and women’s rights and no longer feels afraid to speak out.

“I might not have degrees or certificates, but I am a self-taught person now… We are workers who are earning money by working hard, we should not be treated in this way.”

We launched the She Wears the Cost campaign, with frontline campaigners from Bangladesh and Cambodia, at ActionAid Australia’s online General Assembly on 24 April. The She Wears the Cost campaign is calling on Australian and international clothing brands to support the women who make their clothes.  

Stand with women garment workers demanding justice. Get behind the campaign by signing the petition today.