The ILO director also said the organization was closely working with women in the industrial sector to ensure proper nutrition
On Sunday, International Labour Organization Country Director, Tuomo Poutiainen, called for improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh.
Addressing the launch of an initiative, Nutrition of Working Women, he also urged the authorities concerned to further enhance workplace safety in the sector.
The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association, and Nutrition International, organized the event at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in the capital.
“Our common goal is to ensure that all RMG factories are safe, and to develop the capacity of the government, employers, and workers alike, so that international partner support is no longer needed,” Poutiainen explained.
The ILO director also said the organization was closely working with women in the industrial sector to ensure proper nutrition.
“Most RMG workers suffer from malnutrition, which hampers their productivity and affects the entire sector. Now we will be working under the new project to improve health and nutrition in the RMG sector and achieve [sustainable development goal] SDG 3.
“ILO always tries to ensure female worker safeness and maintain gender equality. Factory management would also benefit as reduction in energy deficiency and anemia would ensure women are less tired. As productivity improves with their health, there would be less absenteeism due to illness, and employee retention would be higher if women like the food and feel that their employers care about them. This would translate into a considerable return on investment for the business as fewer costs are needed for recruitment and training of new workers, and individual worker productivity would increase,” he noted.
Whip, Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Swapon, said: “The RMG sector contributes significantly to the GDP of our country and creates about 4 million employment opportunities and is powered by young workers, where most of them are women.
“If we want to see a world free of malnutrition by 2030, governments, citizens, civil society organizations, and the private sector, must collaborate to invest, innovate, and create lasting solutions.” he added.
Chair of this launching program, Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, said: “To sustain as a middle income country as well as to maintain overall socio economic development, it is highly important to have a healthy and productive working force which can increase production.”
“Nutrition International Bangladesh works with the government and other partners to save and improve lives, but this is the first time BKMEA is working with Nutrition International solely for the betterment of women’s health. This project has been designed specially to improve worker health, nutrition, and well-being and improved iron retention leading to the prevention and control of anemia in women workers of reproductive age,” he added.
Vice president of Nutrition International (NI), Brian Harrigan, said: “NI has been working closely with the government of Bangladesh for over 20 years. We are proud of the progress we have made, putting an end to malnutrition. Through NOWW we will continue this work with a special focus on working women.”
In the program, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Nutrition International, signed an MoU aiming to prepare 20 master trainers who would train other trainers to supply iron and folic acid tablets to female workers in knit factories.
Among others, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh, Benoit Préfontaine, Dr Shah Nawaz, DG, Bangladesh National Nutrition Council, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, vice president of NI, Brian Harrigan, NI country director Zaki Hasan, vice president (finance) BKMEA, Homaun Kabir Khan Shilpi, and other directors of BKMEA were also present.