Unicef and the Bangladesh government on Tuesday launched a new project to support maternity rights and promote breastfeeding in the workplace.
The national initiative called [email protected]
aims to help women working in the industrial sector, especially the ready-made garments (RMG) sector.
“Most of the working women in the ready-made garments sector are of reproductive age and many of them are mothers who are responsible for nurturing the next generation,” said Unicef Bangladesh Representative, Edouard Beigbeder.
“However, the fear of losing their sole source of income causes many women to return to work too soon, before they have physically recovered and stopped breastfeeding.”
The programme comprises seven minimum standards which will address challenges faced by young mothers who find themselves having to juggle childcare and work.
The standards include paid maternity leave, breastfeeding accommodations, provision of breastfeeding breaks and flexible working arrangements, medical benefits and provision of daycare.
State Minister of Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu emphasised the importance of maternity rights and breastfeeding facilities at work.
“Under the Labour Law, it is mentioned that every factory which employs 40 or more female workers must provide a room suitable for childcare,” he said. “The ministry will take action if any factories under this law do not provide these facilities.”
The minister also urged working women to raise their voice to claim their rights.
A joint implementation plan has already been established by Unicef and the Bangladesh chapter of the International Labour Organization’s Better Work programme, which is currently working in over 120 factories in the RMG sector.
Speakers at the launch event included the secretary general of Women's Labour League, Shamsunnahar Bhuia; former Vice President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Mohammed Hatem; and the director of BGMEA, ANM Saifuddin.