In the last two decades there has been considerable progress in Bangladesh in terms of participation of women in the labour force. During the period of 1996-2017, the national rate of female labour force participation increased from 15.8 to 36.3 per cent. While increased female labour force participation has contributed to economic growth and human development, gender-based violence at workplace undermines workplace productivity and profitability. At the same time violence at workplace impedes women’s dignity and their physical and mental well-being.
A study conducted by SHOJAG (Awaken) coalition reported that 22% of female garment workers are exposed to physical, psychological and sexual harassment at workplace or on the way to and from workplace. Of them 67% do not seek support from the VAW prevention committee at workplaces due to lack of trust on the concern authority.
Globally, gender-based violence at workplace remains as one of the most violated human rights. According to an estimate, 35% of women – 818 million women globally – over the age of 15 have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in their communities or in the workplace. Yet there is still no law at the international level that sets a base for taking action to eradicate violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, in the world of work. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is working towards such a law, through what is known as a “standard-setting” process. The ILO GBV Convention concerns all workers, all sectors, paid, unpaid, underpaid work (rural, migrant, factory workers, public sector workers, sex workers, unpaid care and domestic).
In line with the above context, ActionAid International selected “Women’s Labour, Decent Work and Public Service” as the core campaign area for the next three years which reflects their core principle of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. ActionAid Bangladesh, in alignment with ActionAid International, decided to focus on women friendly safe workplace with an aim to promote social and economic justice for women.