The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence has been an annual campaign running from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (International Human Rights Day). Like previous years, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Bangladesh has provided support to RMG factories, trade unions/ federations, and brands in celebrating the campaign.
The campaign aimed at promoting a safer, more dignified workplace through raising awareness about workplace harassment. The campaign disseminated messages about the importance of addressing gender-based violence to promote a culture of gender sensitive workplace in the Bangladesh RMG industry.
ETI has supported a range of activities engaging factories, trade unions and worker rights organizations in Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) industry.
Preparatory meeting and webinar
A webinar, having more than two hundred factories on board, was organized to support the preparation of the campaign at factory level. ETI Bangladesh and Fair Wear Foundation jointly organized the event. There the factories shared their experience of celebrating the campaign in previous years as well as their plans for this year. ETI Bangladesh and Fair Wear Foundation shared their plans and how they will support factories.
ETI Bangladesh also organized meetings with IndustriAll Bangladesh Council Women Committee for preparation of the celebration by the women trade union leaders.
Development and distribution of IEC materials
ETI published a poster with key message of this campaign and distributed that among factories, TU/ federations, brands, and member organizations of the Bangladesh Gender Platform. Along with this, ETI provided an information dossier to be disseminated through factory public announcement system, audio songs on workplace gender issues and audio-visual material to be used for the campaign. ETI provided the materials to more than 80 RMG factories. The poster reached to more factories through brands and Fair Wear Foundation.
Learning Sharing Meeting with SHCC Members
ETI facilitated a knowledge-sharing session with members of the Sexual Harassment Complain Committee (SHCC) of different factories to discuss the implementation of the activities under this campaign, along with the distribution of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials during the period from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Round Table Discussion by IBC Women Committee
On 27 December 2023, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) Women Committee hosted a roundtable discussion on how to address gender-based violence in the RMG sector of Bangladesh, as part of UN 16 Days of Activism against GBV, supported by ETI Bangladesh, Mondial FNV, and Fair Wear Foundation under the Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change (STITCH) project and NORAD-supported project.
The roundtable discussion featured key figures, including Director of Labour Department of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Deputy Director of the Labour Department of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Deputy Country Director of Solidarity Center, Chairman of Standing Committee of ILO And Labour Affairs & BGMEA, Chairman of WRC, IBC Vice President and General Secretary. Representatives from government bodies, non-government organizations, BGMEA, and trade unions participated, reflecting the collaborative approach needed to address this gender-based violence issue at RMG workplace. IBC Women Committee and other LROs demanded for ratification of ILOC190 and adoption of a new law aligning with the direction of the Bangladesh High Court.
Social Media Campaign
ETI leverages the power of social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, to conduct a campaign from November 24 to December 10, 2023. The intent is to harness the digital platform for awareness and advocacy.
During the UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, factories executed focused agendas comprising discussion meetings, video presentations, rallies, leaflet distribution, booklets regarding high court verdict on address GBV and audio broadcasts via PA. Aiming at raising awareness and fostering unity, these activities embodied commitment to eradicating gender-based violence.
During the campaign, ETI Bangladesh team members also visited some factories to participate in a joint celebration within factories. This engagement reinforces the commitment to the cause and celebrates the efforts of all involved.
The utilization of orange attire symbolized collective resolve. Commencing on November 25th and extending until December 10th, 2023, these initiatives underscore dedication to cultivating a workplace and community free from such violence.
Moreover, ETI Bangladesh participated in various collaborative activities arranged by stakeholders, including a webinar on December 5, 2023, a round table discussion on November 23, 2023, and press conference organized by the Gender Platform of Bangladesh. These efforts highlight the need for amending laws to prevent gender-based violence at workplaces.
The 16 Days of Activism serves as an opportune springboard each year to further important dialogue and yield meaningful progress around mitigating gender-based violence – both locally and globally. Through its robust slate of activities engaging diverse stakeholders, ETI Bangladesh is proud to have supported the 2023 campaign under Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change (STITCH) and NORAD.
-Mahbuba Akbar, Programme Officer-Communication and Documentation, ETI Bangladesh