Bringing domestic workers (women) under "Digital Financial Services (DFS)" can be a tool to enable them to become economically empowered by introducing it as their wage payment method, according to a study.
The baseline survey done by the Institute of Social Business (ISB) stated that nearly one crore people are working as domestic workers across the country. Of them, 90% are women. 99% of them receive their salary in cash.
With this, their income is completely out of the reach of the economic sector and a large number of DWs do not have control over their income. They are deprived of empowerment financially, it added.
The findings of the survey were presented at a programme titled "Introducing DFS: Empowering Domestic Workers" held at CIRDAP Auditorium on Wednesday. Posts & Telecommunications Minister Mostafa Jabbar graced the event as the chief guest.
In light of the survey, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) is going to launch an initiative to bring women domestic workers under "Digital Financial Services (DFS)" to enable them to become economically empowered.
Under the "Shuchona" project of the MJF, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the survey was done on 4,000 women domestic workers (DWs) and 3,500 women employers (WEs) in five locations --Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Goran, Keranigonj, and Kamrangirchar.
According to the survey, only 19 % of DWs had the MFS account on their phone. DWs who have the MFS account can operate it to a limited scale predominantly for cash-out, cash-in, and mobile recharge. Most importantly, 36 % DWs didn't use the MFS account at all.
When asked about the MFS adaptation, 92% of DWs expressed comfort with cash salaries due to two main reasons - lack of phone operations capacity and inconvenience to withdraw money during any emergency. Out of the total, 44 % DWs strongly said they want salaries in cash.
According to the survey, their monthly average family income and expenditure were almost the same Tk13,265 and Tk13,002 respectively. Only 19% of them cited they could save.
A joint decision-making practice (between DWs and family members) was observed for more than 60% of DWs. In terms of payment of MFS transaction costs, DWs stated employers should pay those fees as their income is very limited.
Some 91% of women employers (WEs) expressed their comfort to pay wages in cash. 48 % stated they cannot operate the MFS account in any way. However, 81% are willing to pay the MFS transaction cost if they adopt the MFS.
The survey recommended that if training methodologies for DWs and WEs − can be developed taking into account their level of education, it will be able to bring the salaries of DWs under a digital system.
MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam says, "The introduction of digital financial services will make a positive impact on the empowerment of DWs and their savings. It will be easier to bring the income of domestic workers under the national statistics."