The UN Women Bangladesh, in collaboration with Unilever Bangladesh and Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, has launched a project to support women returnee migrants with dignity packages and health-hygiene kits.
The initiative was launched through a ceremony held at the Bangladesh-Korea Technical Training Centre conference room in Dhaka on Saturday, read a press release.
The project – to be implemented in ten districts across the country – will provide emergency food, personal health and hygiene products, and skill development opportunities with the aim to protect returnee women workers from Covid-19 risks and challenges.
Supported by UN Women, Government of Japan and Unilever Bangladesh, this project will be implemented by two women rights organisation Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendra (BNSK) and Badabon Sangho in locations including Dhaka airport, Dhaka Urban, Manikganj, Keraniganj, Narsingdi, Rajbari, Jashore, Bagerhat, Sylhet, Habiganj, Patuakhali and Jamalpur.
Dignity packages have already been distributed among 125 returnee women workers who attended the launch programme.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, women migrant workers are facing challenges as they have lost their jobs in Country of Destination (CoDs). This has put this group of women into greater risks such as lack of food and nutrition, health risks, exposed them to gender-based violence at home and in public as well as social stigma, the release read.
This project will support these women through providing Cash for work (CFW) support, create livelihood options, and engage in community work for disseminating awareness information on Covid-19 prevention, it added.
Four hundred women returnee migrants in Dhaka, Manikganj and Keraniganj, will receive a dignity package which includes two masks, hand washing bar, detergent powder, and basic food items.
Ten thousand women migrant workers in ten districts under three divisions will receive health- hygiene products that include two masks, hand washing bar, detergent powder, shampoo, and toothpaste etc.
Thirty returnee women in Manikganj will receive sewing machines (6) and skills training to produce masks for their community as livelihood support.
One hundred returnee women will be engaged with Cash for Work, mobilising vulnerable returnee women, and disseminating awareness messages on Covid-19 prevention in their respective communities.
Fifty thousand people (family members of returnee migrants) will be benefited from the support and services provided under this project, the press release mentioned.
Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment attended the event as the chief guest.
Md Shamsul Alam, director general of Bureau Of Manpower, Employer and Training (BMET), Dilruba Haider, officer-in-charge of UN Women, Bangladesh, Rashedul Quayum, secretary and legal director of Unilever Bangladesh joined the event as the special guests.
In her welcome speech at the event, Tapati Saha from the UN Women said, "Women returnee migrants are facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic situation, and this project aims to not only distribute health and hygiene kits to them, but also provide them with some skills development opportunities, cash support, market access and awareness to combat this pandemic.
"We thank the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Unilever and our NGO partners BNSK and Badabon Sangho for their support and collaboration."
Sumaiya Islam, executive director of BNSK and Lipi Rahman, executive director of Badabon Sangho then presented an overview of the project.
Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary of the expatriates' welfare ministry, said, "We encourage safe, orderly, regular and responsible migration and we expect civil society, NGOs to help us ensure that.
"We see a more effective and tangible role of civil society in mainstreaming migration. Bangladesh has made great advancement in women empowerment than many other countries, and collaboration with all the sectors can take this forward. It's a shared responsibility and I thank UN Women, Unilever and our NGOs partners for sharing it with us. "
Dilruba Haider of the UN Women said, "Skill development is a big step of empowerment. We are excited and encouraged to see the kind of support that the GoB [Government of Bangladesh] is providing not just in this project but to the concept of empowerment.
"A collaboration of the GoB, private sector, UN and NGOs can play a crucial role to empower the returnee women migrants."
Rashedul Quayum from Unilever Bangladesh, said, "Unilever Bangladesh has been supporting the nation in its fight against the Coronavirus through various collaborations and partnerships.
"We have tried to reach out to as many Bangladeshis as possible through various partnerships and help to protect lives and livelihood in the past four months. Through our collaboration with UN Women as well as the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, we could offer our support to returnee women migrant workers across the country."
He continued, "We hope during these critical times, support such as food, cash donation and health and hygiene products will help the migrant women workers to meet their basic needs and keep their motivation high to fight the virus as well as build their future.
"We feel humbled to get associated with this initiative."