Significantly, 85% of women in Bangladesh work in the garment industry and 78% of export in Bangladesh is from the garment industry. This is a huge contribution to economic growth and it is vital that women have access to support so that they can empower themselves and educate others around them.
Rushanara Ali said:
“Today I visited the WHEEL project which is co-founded by CARE with private sector funding to help young women working in garment factories to develop a better understanding of health, education, workplace safety and employment rights.
I was inspired by the stories of these women, many of whom moved to Dhaka to find work. As well as working long hours in the garment factory, these women are also taking time in the evenings to attend classes with the WHEEL project as well as looking after their families and homes. The WHEEL project helps them develop life skills and have a better understanding of employment rights and opportunities.
While I’m delighted that some of foreign companies who are investors in the country’s garments industry are working with NGOs to support projects that are improving conditions in the industry, this still falls short. It is vital that the private sector invests more serious resources in education and health projects to help women in the garments industry live and work in decent conditions.“
As well as visiting projects, Rushanara Ali spoke at the Oxfam’s roundtable discussion on expectations of the Durban summit on climate change, and an event at the Bangladesh Liberation War Museum to mark the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and Oxfam’s presence in the country over those years. Rushanara also met with the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Women and Children. Her discussions at these meetings focused on the issues related to climate change and its impact on Bangladesh – ahead of the Durban summit in December. Over the coming days, she’ll be visiting projects led by Oxfam and CARE International on disaster preparedness and food security in Sylhet and Kishor Gonj. On her return to the UK, Rushanara Ali hopes to launch a major campaign to highlight the plight facing Bangladesh, her country of birth, due to climate change.