Strengthening SRHR of female factory workers in the garment sector in Bangladesh

“It will be difficult for Bangladesh to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if female garments workers are denied healthcare.” These words marked the launch of project STITCH last Wednesday 27th of February in Dhaka, Bangladesh. STITCH stands for SRHR Tailor-made Information and Training to Contribute to Occupational Health and safety conditions of factoryworkers in the Ready-Made Garment Sector in Bangladesh and is an initiative of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) as part of NUFFIC’s Orange Knowledge Programme. The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will run till December 2021.

The garment industry in Bangladesh started developing in the early 90s. Millions of men and women found their employment in the factories, allowing them to sustain their household or support siblings to go to school. However, the rapid expansion of the industry put pressure on the working and living conditions of the workers, as well as on their physical and mental health. Despite earlier government efforts to improve the working environment when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights of in particular female workers, recent research has shown that many women are still badly informed, use the available information inconsistently or have no access to information at all.

STITCH aims to develop tailor-made training programs that will enable trainers and health care providers with necessary knowledge and skills to create an enabling environment in which shame, silence and stigma around SRHR are addressed. By using drama, comic books, song, dance, art and music as communication tools, the trainers strive to make the SRHR information and education services more accessible to future workers. These services include topics such as safe abortion, prevention of child marriages, reduced violence against women, family planning, the role of men and boys and similar. The project targets future Ready Made Garment (RMG) workers, current RMG workers, health care service providers and top-level management in RMG and government officials of Directorate General of Family Planning.

Md Abdul Malek, Additional Secretary, Medical Education & Family Welfare Division, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare chaired the launching event. Speaking on the occasion he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to ensuring health service to all sections of people in the society.

The partners in the STITCH project are Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), AYAT Skill Development Center (ASDC), RedOrange Media and Communications, Indigenous Peoples Development Services (IPDS), and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam).

The holistic efforts of STITCH will be a major contribution to ensuring a respectable work environment for women in the RMG sector and beyond. Duration: 01/01/19 – 31/12/2021 | Budget: €897,645 (co-funding of €50,000). For more information please contact the project manager, Mrs Esther den Hartog,


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