May 6, 2016
UNICEF, Bangladesh readymade garment industry team up on children’s rights
May 6, 2016
To support Bangladeshi garment manufacturers that want to go that extra mile to support the rights of children, working parents and young workers, UNICEF launched its ‘Children’s Rights and the Garment Industry in Bangladesh’ initiative this week.
Garment manufacturers that join this initiative will be supported to establish family-friendly workplaces to help improve the situation of working parents, particularly women; young workers and surrounding communities, UNICEF said in a press release.
The objective of the launch is to create awareness of the impact of the garment industry on the rights of children and working parents in Bangladesh; and to engage key stakeholders – business, government, civil society and non-governmental organizations on the challenges; and to invite them to work with UNICEF and partners to help shape the garment sector’s contribution to children’s rights and development in Bangladesh.
The launch took place in Dhaka and the opening session was addressed by representatives of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Labour and Employment; the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), UNICEF and the working women’s organization Karmojibi Nari.
The opening session was followed by an industry panel where leading garment manufactures in Bangladesh shared Corporate Social Responsibility practices and how they can bring a focus on children and working women and parents while also exchanging views on how best these could be replicated.
During the second half of the day, four parallel sessions were run on breastfeeding in the workplace; child care solutions; urban policy and planning and water and sanitation issues where experts, practitioners and business managers took part to identify key challenges and recommendations for further improvements in these areas.
Mohammed Nasir, Vice President (Finance) BGMEA, said, “BGMEA is committed to ensuring safety, dignity and well-being of the readymade garment workers. So, the trade association would welcome any positive endeavor of UNICEF for the industry.”
Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative said, “Currently, over four million garment workers and their families live in deprived communities, with many more migrating to already overcrowded areas as the industry grows. Access to basic services in these slums is often impossible or cost prohibitive. Disease, poverty, illiteracy and exploitation are prolific, trapping garment workers and their families in a cycle of poverty. This initiative creates an opportunity for leaders in the RMG sector to join other industry stakeholders to expand existing structures, drive sustainable change for children contributing to healthy, educated, stable communities and workforces.”
“The impact of the RMG sector on workers’ children is significant. Supporting children of the predominantly female workforce – with appropriate child care solutions, maternity rights at work, breastfeeding support –can have significant long term impacts on children’s health, education and well-being outcomes,” said Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Joint Secretary in the Labour Ministry.
UNICEF urged for collaborative action across the sector to harness the power of the RMG sector to become a force for good for workers and their families and help create a sustainable supply chain industry. Promoting an understanding of children as key stakeholders across the sector is an essential element to embedding long term sustainable change.
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