In Bangladesh, an estimated 80 per cent of the workforce in the garments sector is female. Though there are different legal frameworks (such as the Bangladesh Labour Law, Labour Policy and Occupational Health and Safety Policy) that have mandated the rights of workers in Bangladesh, it is apparent that the workers of these sectors rarely enjoy these rights and have limited space to raise their voice and claim their rights. This is mainly due to workers’ lack of awareness about their rights and entitlements, the absence of trade unions, and limited negotiation and communication skills.
ActionAid Bangladesh established Women’s Café’s throughout Dhaka and Chittagong to create an alternative space, especially for women, to grow, learn and relax in a gender-friendly environment that is beyond the boundaries of their work place. The Cafés foster education and learning for the members in employment related information on their rights and entitlements, as well as providing opportunities for basic healthcare and legal aid services. The women also receive leadership training at the Cafés which develops their confidence with negotiation, dispute resolution and leadership skills.
There are currently 25 café’s established in Dhaka and Chittagong, of which 20 are regular café’s and 5 are master café’s that are associated with 5 NGOs located in these cities. ActionAid proposes targeted support for one of the regular café’s based in either city.
The Respect Campaign, a social enterprise, aims to empower workplaces to build culturally positive work environments. To fund our work we discuss the difficult subjects using technology that elevates the conversation.
We believe workplaces cultures must be improved and our first grassroots program partnering with Action Aid at the Women’s Cafes in Bangladesh is one example of building empowerment and resilience through an innovative new program that builds awareness of labour rights and good governance principles, which leads to increase bargaining power and builds their overall resilience.
Special features of the program include:
- Understand, save and manage their money
- Avoid being cheated by local moneylenders (or other informal borrowing mechanisms)
- Look after their own health and their family’s health
- Communicate effectively with household members and colleagues/supervisors at work
- Develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
- Take action to address issues important to them (at home and at work)
- Live as empowered individuals who are in charge of their own lives
Violence Against Women – forming dialogue between managers and workers on issues of violence
Enhancing Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities through Empowerment of Workers
Empowering Women RMG Workers’ Project Bangladesh
Implementation of Health Training in Factories
Empowering Female Garment Workers
Occupational Health & Safety and General Health Awareness Training to Garment/Textile Workers.
More to come.