Clowns Without Borders UK (CWB UK) will be visiting FDMN in Cox’s Bazar January 20- February 2, 2
Bangladesh is one of the first signatories to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The constitution of the country specifically ensures equal rights for women in all spheres of life. Within the industrial sector, basic services for women employees and entrepreneurs are lacking and seriously hamper their economic participation and development. Furthermore, the Factory Act of 1965 states that all industries that employ 50 or more women must provide day-care facilities. The Bangladeshi Government has, however, failed to implement many of these laws and agreements and gender disparity remains one of the dominant concerns of women in Bangladesh.
With rapid population growth, poverty, disasters, and other factors, there has been mass migration to urban areas in search of employment. This has resulted in changes in the family structure, particularly in low-income urban families, as elder family members tend to remain in the rural areas. Most of the women in low-income households are employed in the formal and informal sectors. There is no system in place for taking care of the children during their work period. Invariably, the children are left alone at their homes, to be taken care by the older daughters at the cost of young girls’ own schooling and childhood.
Given the rapid development stride in Bangladesh, the facts illustrate a different scenario. Only 65% of women (aged 15 to 49) are unemployed. Even though 80% of the 4 million workers in the ready-made garments (RMG) industry are women, only 8% and 8.3% of managers and entrepreneurs across Bangladesh are women respectively.
To address the disparities, BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BIED), BRAC University, in partnership with Phulki Bangladesh, supported by Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education (NICHE), an innovative initiative has been launched in 2016. At the end of the project in 2019, it is envisaged that BIED and Phulki have built capacities in training female caregivers and female entrepreneurs and engaged private sector stakeholders to ensure day-care facilities at factories, thus, increasing employability of women, ensuring rights of women to day-care and improving compliance standards of factories.
With the International Women’s Day 2017 Theme being, ‘BE BOLD FOR CHANGE’, the initiative undertaken promises of building the capacity of a community of women, each enabled and leaders in their own spheres and bold on their own terms. They are in-charge of nurturing the development of the future generation while simultaneously they take ownership of their social and economic realities. Gender parity and skilled workforce, self-reliance and empowerment are not just mere concepts; the innovative approach addresses the four A’s in the most effective way possible of creating access to the employment sector, availability of jobs in leadership positions, affordability in terms of improved living standards and quality of life of both the women and families (both direct and indirect beneficiaries) and finally enabling an environment of acceptability of equitable gender roles and practices in the social, economic and political spheres countrywide.
Our work advocates strongly that change comes not through concepts – it requires action. Effective action requires to be built on the strength of the underserved population such as of women and children, that contributes to the creation of an ocean of possibilities and potentials.
Communications and Fundraising Lead
BRAC Institute of Educational Development