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The Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry is a mainstay of the Bangladesh economy, accounting for 81% of the country's total export income. Bangladesh is the world’s third largest garment producer with more than 3,000 factories currently employing around 4 million workers, an estimated 85% of them women. Most RMG workers are migrants from disadvantaged backgrounds and lack access to products and services related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

The Working with Women-II project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of garment workers in Bangladesh through Inclusive Business practices across the RMG value chain. Working with Women-II builds on the success of a three-year pilot project (Working with Women-I) and is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Drawing on SNV’s extensive experience of engaging with business communities to promote responsible and inclusive business, the Working with Women-II project will integrate three Inclusive Business (IB) models in 10 partner factories to harness market mechanisms for delivering win-win solutions for businesses and their workforce. In the next four years (2017-2021) the project will involve 200 factories in Gazipur, Tongi, Savar and Narayanganj to ensure access to health facilities for garment workers, including SRHR.

Key activities in Phase- II (2017-2021):

  • Support better implementation of workplace policies on SRHR and health in garment factories by identifying knowledge gaps and providing capacity building support to incorporate SRHR related issues.
  • Implement three Inclusive Business models in 10 partner factories for sector-wide adoption.
  • Engage the private sector to introduce SRHR and health products/services for garment workers.

The new phase of the project will involve NGOs, service providers and businesses to set the ground for a self-sustaining sectoral change that will safeguard the healthcare rights of workers, including SRHR. This will be achieved through three IB models selected during the piloting phase:

  1. Power Plus: Designed to address gender-based violence in the garment sector. Training and practical guidance will be provided to mid-level factory staff to prevent and mitigate gender-based violence in the workplace. Factory welfare officers will be trained on psychosocial counseling. 
  2. Health Insurance Plus: Facilitates collaborations between insurance companies and garment factories to introduce health insurance for garment workers. The aim is to build smart financing mechanisms for providing comprehensive health care to workers.
  3. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM): Sets a holistic approach to change workers’ behaviour, promote hygiene practices, ensure availability of sanitary pads in the workplace and build factory’s capacity to address MHM through a basket solution.

Key achievements of pilot phase (2014-2017):

  • 10 Inclusive Business models were implemented in 20 factories, delivering improved and affordable gender-friendly SRHR and health services for more than 30,000 workers
  • 14 partner factories out of 20 started investing in SRHR and workers are now paying for SRHR services. 15,000 workers subscribed to health insurance plans.  
  • SRHR service accessibility increased by 662%: from 3,434 in the first quarter of the IB model launch (Aug-Oct 2015) to 22,727 in the last quarter (Jan-Mar 2017)

What's new?

Key facts

Objectives

1

To help incorporate and implement workplace laws and policies on SRHR

2

To increase RMG workers’ access to SRHR information, products and services

3

To help the private sector provide/introduce solutions to ensure SRHR for RMG workers

Our results

Project results pilot phase:
10
IB models
20
partner factories
30,000+
garment workers
15,000
health insurances
662%
access to SRHR

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