Joint Programme to Address Violence Against Women

This is a well coordinated and designed programme by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), led by UNFPA, and its partners to effectively address the unfavorable policy and legal frameworks for violence against women, and the social and individual attitudes and behaviours. The interventions are built around a three-pronged strategy: (1) The first strategy deals with the policy and legal framework in Bangladesh; (2) The second strategy aims at changing those behaviours related to violence against women/girls; (3) The third strategy revolves around protecting and helping victims of gender-based violence.

Project Brief

There are nine UN agencies and 11 Ministries working together to contribute towards achieving MDG-3, which is Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. This project is one of the components of UN joint program on violence against women and focused on gender equality and preventing VAW at workplace.

Objectives of the Project:

- To adapt ILO code of practice to the context of Bangladesh for reducing VAW, sexual harassment at workplace;

- To sensitize managers, supervisors, employers, trade union and other stakeholders;

- To create greater awareness among female job seekers and

- To enhance knowledge base about the extent and severity of VAW in selected sectors.

Areas of Interventions:

National & Sectoral Level Advocacy: ILO Code of Practice (Meetings, workshops, tripartite consultations, etc.)

Develop training modules and materials on gender equality and VAW at workplace

Capacity Building: Organize sensitization training sessions on promoting gender equality and VAW at workplace for the government policy makers, officials, employers, managers, supervisors, trade union leaders, workers, NGOs and CBOs

Awareness raising for female migrants and domestic workers

Knowledge Management: Baseline survey of five selected sectors (EPZ, RMG, Tea garden, Shrimp processing factories and Government hospital), situation analysis of female migrants and domestic workers and dissemination of baseline, situation analysis findings

Develop promotional/BCC materials (poster, docu-drama, TV spot, leaflet, stickers, calendars, etc.)

Develop comprehensive and standardized information and advisory procedure on internal safe migration and

Administrative setup for utilization of standardized information and advisory procedures for female migrants & domestic workers 

Key Stakeholders:

Ministry of Labour and Employment; Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF), the National Coordination Committee for Workers' Education (NCCWE), NGOs (BRAC, HDRC, SRGB, BNWLA) and civil society organizations UN joint program on VAW and concerned UN agencies and ministries of the Government of Bangladesh.

Beneficiaries:

Government staff, employers and their representatives and trade union leaders and workers and female potential migrants and domestic workers

Geographic Coverage:

Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Mymensingh, Barisal, Narayanganj, Gazipur

Project Implementation Arrangement:

ILO's component of the UN Joint Programme on Violence against Women (VAW) is a technical assistance project. The project is operating through the planning mechanism in a sustained and effective manner. It is being implemented by ILO in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment; other implementing partners include the Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF), the National Coordination Committee for Workers' Education (NCCWE), and NGOs and civil society organizations.

Key results/ Achievement:

Sensitization training programs on gender equality and VAW at workplace carried out under this project have resulted, inter alia, in establishment of complaints/ suggestions box in some of large private organizations in Bangladesh (e.g. Apex Group, Pran Group, Beximco Pharmaceutical, ACI Limited, etc). They had formed women headed committees to address sexual harassment. As per the High Court’s directive and in line with the ILO Code of Practice on workplace violence that was adapted under the project, some of them have also taken necessary measures to revise their HR policy to promote gender equality and prevent VAW at workplace. BEF has also incorporated prevention of VAW issues in its gender policy and strategy. Likewise, the Trade Unions have also for the first time incorporated gender equality and prevention of VAW issues in their trade union agenda and leadership development programmes. All these kinds of initiatives have created a positive impact on breaking the silence about workplace-based harassment among female workers.

Similarly, awareness raising sessions held under the project for potential female migrants and domestic workers in Dhaka city and adjoining areas have helped to make them aware about their rights. The community people have also been sensitized through community meetings and theater shows to extend their support to the female domestic workers and potential migrants for their safe migration. These have led to a positive change in the communities’ attitude especially towards the helpless domestic workers. Based on its experience as our implementing partner in this case, BRAC has decided to develop a regular program of its own to address safe migration issues.

Increased knowledge in different selected sectors and collected policy and programmatic recommendation for current and future interventions through different studies

ILO Code of Practice has been reviewed based on the context of Bangladesh, which will contribute as guiding document for policy/plan formulation and revision of labour act 2006, rules and regulations

 Total reach through our interventions till date: Direct - Men 9645 and Women - 19657

Key Challenges:

Attitude, mindset and negative socialization process, weak enforcement of existing legal and policy framework to address workplace violence and discrimination, lack of effective coordination among the key actors, lack of reliable data base, multi-sectoral approach to address VAW at workplace, etc.

Key Lessons learnt:

Upon conduction of baseline survey at selected sectors (RMG, EPZ, tea, shrimp and government hospital) we have come to learn that prevalence of violence is still high and the nature, causes and effects of VAW have also been hampering the overall productivity. To address workplace VAW and discrimination properly an integrated/comprehensive program design is must

More action-oriented capacity building programmes should be organized for the constituents and must have a follow-up mechanism in place.

Need for reducing the gaps between the promoting gender equality concepts and the practice level and facilitate gender equality mainstreaming work at both organizational as well as programmatic levels.

Need to work more through a multi-sectoral approach and balance between policy work and direct support to address VAW and eliminate discrimination at workplace

After completion of the three-year Programme it is expected that:

- Policies and legal framework aimed at preventing violence against women (VAW), at the workplace

- Social attitudes and behavior changes effected to reduce VAW at the workplace and discriminatory practices

- Conducive environment created and capacities enhanced for providing support and care for women and girls who are vulnerable to, and/or have been victims of violence at the workplace. Thus it is expected that the issue of addressing violence against women at the workplace will continue to be given importance so that policies will be in place and implemented accordingly for preventing sexual and non-sexual harassment at the workplace

Budget and Duration:

USD-470,800 January 2010-June 2013