La Fundación H&M apoya a trabajadoras de la confección en Bangladesh

Summary .Jolly (24) is a Quality Controller at Silken Sewing Ltd, a ready-made garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh. Jolly has been married to her 27-year-old husband (Jahirul Islam) for two years. He is a Quality Inspector at the same factory. They live together, just the two of them. Silken Sewing is one of three factories taking part in the two-year pilot project Empowering Women Workers in Bangladesh, funded by Cotton On Group. Jolly’s story in her own words I completed the SSC (secondary school certificate) when I was 16. My hometown is in Tangail district in Dhaka. I moved to Gazipur in 2013. I have been working at Silken Sewing for almost six years. Each day, I wake up at 6am, cook, shower, have breakfast and get ready for work. I walk five minutes to work and start at 8am and work until 5pm, but sometimes I do two hours overtime. When I get home, I freshen up, rest for a while, cook, have dinner and then watch TV. Every day is different. Sometimes I hang out with my friends. I usually go to bed at 10pm. Sometimes my husband sweeps the floor, helps me cook, get water and makes the bed. But it is not possible for him to help every day – since he’s a guy, he is not interested in doing the household chores. Working at Silken Sewing is my first job. I was a Quality Inspector, but I was promoted to Quality Controller last week. When I was a QI my mindset was different. Now as a QC, I am my own boss. I am enjoying my position. I like everyone’s kindness and closeness here. Everyone is very friendly. Before the leadership training, I had a lot of challenges. I feared that I could not do the job, I feared what others would say. I had the limiting belief that due to societal issues – because I am a woman, and not very educated – I had a fear that no one would listen to me. But now nothing is a challenge. Previously I was lagging behind because I am a woman, but I want to put myself in a position where no one will comment that I am a woman or a man – I will just be judged on my work. My mindset has changed completely. I never imagined I could be in this position. I didn’t know how to communicate and have people understand me. Why would people listen to me? Now I supervise 24 people. I improved my communication skills, confidence and logic. I was totally awakened by the ten-day training. It literally transformed me. I used to know and understand things, but I could never implement them. I used to have fear, but the fear is not there anymore. The approach of the trainer was so friendly, kind and open to us. The training was so logical and confidence was instilled in me. I learned about the responsibilities of garment workers, problem-solving, hygiene and cleanliness, personal health, occupational health and women’s empowerment. Women’s empowerment means we will not demean ourselves. We will speak in a way of leadership, logic, intelligence, and not insult anyone. I got this position, but a man didn’t. I’m a woman and I am here. I never imagined I could control six production lines, but now I do control them with no fears, mental barriers or limiting beliefs. And I crave for more. I want to grow bigger. I want to be a Manager. To do that, I need to stay firm and stay kind, and maintain effective communication, good behaviour and improve my work knowledge. Being a woman in a Supervisor role is a very different feeling. When I was an Operator, my head was automatically downwards. Now I am my own boss, so I’m much more conscious about my behaviour and my approach. I am passing on the skills I learned to my employees. Everyone who works at Silken Sewing knows that right after the training, I got promoted. I talk about the training with my friends outside of work. My friends are surprised that I never said no; that I don’t fear any responsibilities. I never tried for higher positions before, but now everything seems so easy for me and I have adapted so well. Nothing is a big deal for me anymore. My life is extremely different to my mother’s. She is very vulnerable and innocent. She lacks literacy and she is very dependent on my father. My parents are the best, but they couldn’t afford for me to finish my studies, so they married me off. I don’t have any children, but I would like to have one child. We have a daycare facility in the factory, so I can continue to work. I would like to be able to afford to stay home and care for my child, but until that happens, I can’t make any decisions about that. I will have to wait and see. If I have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a better environment than I did. I would like her to be a doctor so she can help people; I would like her to provide treatment without fees Interviewed by Melinda Kenny at Silken Sewing, Gazipur, Bangladesh on Wednesday 31 July 2019. Scene-setting information: .90 per cent of the 4 million workers in the Bangladeshi garment industry are women. Bangladesh is a patriarchal society. Men have traditionally been the main income earners and still have control over their wives’ income and decision-making. CARE and Cotton On Group aim to encourage more women to move into factory leadership roles and have an equal say in the decisions that affect them – at work, at home and in their communities. Project information and major issues: The Empowering Women Workers in Bangladesh project aims to increase the number of women garment workers in leadership roles in the participating factories, in addition to tackling the barriers that women face to achieve equality in the workplace, and supporting women to take control of their own lives. It works with management to ensure female workers have a voice in workplace committees and are supported to progress into leadership roles. Together, CARE and Cotton On Group are providing bespoke training modules to 2,200 garment factory workers, predominately women, across three of the Group’s supplier factories in Bangladesh.

La organización sin fines de lucro, Fundación H&M, está iniciando un proyecto a largo plazo para apoyar a las trabajadoras de la confección en Bangladesh, comenzando con las necesidades urgentes relacionadas con el COVID-19. Como primer paso, se están donando 12 millones de coronas suecas (1.3 millones de dólares) a WaterAid, CARE y Save the Children para brindar ayuda de emergencia a alrededor de 76,000 mujeres jóvenes, sus familias y miembros de su comunidad en Dhaka, además de alcanzar a 1 millón de personas con mensajes sobre el COVID-19 y prácticas de higiene. La Fundación H&M hace tambien un llamado a que otros muestren su apoyo.

“Apoyaremos directamente a las mujeres y sus familias con, por ejemplo, asistencia monetaria para alimentos, medicamentos y otras necesidades, crearemos conciencia  y proporcionaremos pruebas de COVID-19, materiales de higiene e instalaciones para lavarse las manos. Esperamos ver a más donantes mostrar su apoyo de diferentes maneras «, dice Carola Tembe, Project Manager, Fundación H&M.

Bangladesh es uno de los países más densamente poblados del mundo, lo cual es un gran desafío cuando se trata de contener el impacto de una pandemia. La capacidad del sistema de salud se está poniendo a prueba y requiere de un considerable apoyo externo.

“Junto a la Fundación H&M abordaremos las necesidades inmediatas para una mejor higiene en la lucha contra el COVID-19, mientras avanzamos hacia mejoras sostenibles a largo plazo en los servicios de agua, saneamiento e higiene. Un enfoque integrado que es fundamental para construir sociedades sostenibles, inclusivas y resilientes ”, dice Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, CEO de WaterAid Sweden.

Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, CEO de WaterAid Sweden.

Además de los impactos en la salud de la pandemia, la posterior cuarentena ha tenido un impacto económico devastador. Los esfuerzos de ayuda de emergencia se llevan a cabo de mayo a diciembre de 2020 con el objetivo de tener efectos positivos mucho después de eso.

“Proporcionaremos a las mujeres vulnerables pensiones de subsistencia y acceso a servicios de salud y apoyo por violencia de género, llegando también a miles de miembros de la comunidad. La donación de la Fundación H&M apoyará a las mujeres y sus comunidades en este momento de gran necesidad”, dice Merlijn van Waas, Jefe de Desarrollo Sostenible, CARE Nederland.

La iniciativa también incluye Save the Children, cuyos esfuerzos se centrarán en los hijos de trabajadoras de la confección afectadas por COVID-19 para garantizar sus derechos de protección y educación infantil.

«Los apoyaremos con soluciones que puedan garantizar la educación y protección de sus hijos contra la violencia o el abuso. En definitiva, ayudar a estos niños a construir una vida mejor ”, dice Onno van Manen, Director de País de Save the Children en Bangladesh.

Desde necesidades urgentes hasta apoyo a largo plazo

Además de la donación de ayuda de emergencia relacionada con el COVID-19, la Fundación H&M también está asumiendo un compromiso a largo plazo, comenzando en el otoño de 2020, involucrando a actores importantes de diferentes sectores para lograr un cambio sistémico duradero, equipando a las trabajadoras de la confección en Bangladesh para un futuro donde el trabajo se define por la automatización y la digitalización.

«Junto con diferentes socios, pondremos a disposición de las trabajadoras de la confección los esfuerzos de mejora, re-capacitación, alfabetización digital y emprendimiento con el objetivo de aumentar su futura empleabilidad», dice Carola Tembe, Gerente de Programa, Fundación H&M.