Women's Empowerment through Employment and Health (WEEH)- Bangladesh

From 2001 to 2005, the ILO with financial support of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) implemented the Project “Women’s Empowerment through Employment and Health (WEEH)”. The project comprised two sub-projects; 1) Women’s Empowerment through Decent Employment (WEDE), and 2) Micro-Health Insurance for Poor Rural Women in Bangladesh (MHIB). The WEDE sub-project included two components: Gender and Employment (G&E), and Private Sector Initiative (PSI). The G&E component promoted skills development and awareness raising, and provided training for micro and small women entrepreneurs. The PSI component promoted decent work in the formal sector, i.e., tea plantation in particular, through training and awareness on gender and women’s rights at work, and supported local dialogue between employers and employees. The MHIB sub-project also included two components: Micro-Health Insurance Schemes (MHIS), and Knowledge Development and Advocacy (KDA). The MHIS component provided affordable and quality primary health care services to targeted poor rural women and their families through micro-health insurance schemes. The KDA component increased support for MHI policy makers and partner organizations, and promoted the application of MHI best practices and lessons learned.

At the end of the project, most of the target groups had improved their ability to manage daily tasks and apply skills such as planning, marketing, account keeping and, monitoring. Some women entrepreneurs with the help of partner NGOs had expanded their businesses and were switching from “income generating activities (IGA) to enterprise operations”. An increased participation of poor women in the leadership and decision making-positions in trade unions/workers’ associations was also observed. The project was also successful in increasing awareness of health care and nutrition, providing poor women’s group access to MHI services through upgraded health centers/clinics and an increased number of policy cardholders.