Case story

Awareness campaign helps RMG workers’ communities fight against COVID-19

Parvin Akhter introduced mask wearing and hand washing practice in her family (comprising four children and her husband) and encouraged her neighbours to do the same to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Munshi Bari, a small community mostly populated by garment workers in Gazipur near Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.

Feature | Dhaka | 21 March 2022
Mom teaches her little boy wearing medical mask to prevent coronavirus infection. © shutterstock
What convinced Parvin to take action is  theBehaviour Change Awareness Campaign launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in her area.  
Funded by the Government of Sweden, the campaign is a part of the ILO's Social Dialogue and Industrial Relations (SDIR) project’s COVID-19 response work, jointly with the Department of Labour, Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF) Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Workers Resource Centre (WRC).

Campaign highlights

  • The Behaviour Change Awareness Campaign reached more than 5,000 households in the RMG dense areas of Gazipur and Chattogram, covering a population of more than 20,000 people, at least 60 per cent of whom are women.
  • The campaign continued from June to December 2021 featuring a series of awareness-raising videos, posters, leaflets, door-to-door meetings and public service announcements, engaging a total of 107,180 participants.
  • Findings from the endline study show that the campaign has enhanced the RMG communities' knowledge on multiple aspects related to COVID-19 by more than 20 per cent.
  • A social media intervention as part of the Campaign reached 18,546,146 people on Facebook.

One of the components of the campaign was courtyard meetings, where attendees observe strict physical distancing and other prevention measures. The small gatherings allowed RMG workers and their communities to get the right information on COVID-19 symptoms, preventive measures and dispel misinformation — particularly related to care for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.   

Morseda Begum is a landlord in Gazipur’s Abed Ali Market area. The majority of her 20 tenants are female garment workers who share a common kitchen and washing area. With support from the community volunteers engaged during the campaign, she hosted several courtyard meetings in her house. The meetings have helped her understand the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices and preventive measures to stay safe from COVID-19.

Community leaders were also engaged to share life-saving information with the rest of their community during the small gatherings. Religious leaders disseminated messages through mosque loudspeakers to reach all residents.  

Also included in the campaign was distribution of hygiene kits, social media campaign and SMS and voice messages disseminated through mobile phones. All materials were produced in Bangla to ensure as wide a reach as possible across the target population.

Based on the findings of a pulse survey conducted before the intervention, the campaign has put a special focus to debunk the misconceptions around care for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. (for example, over ⅓ of expectant and new mothers surveyed had the misconception that breastmilk can spread Coronavirus.)

The Behaviour Change Awareness Campaign also included a Social media campaign targeting the worker’s community in Gazipur and Chattogram.

Videos and static posts containing COVID-19 awareness messages were shared on Facebook for two months as part of the Social media campaign.

The campaign reached 18,546,146 people and the messages generated 19,007,315 views in total.