icddr,b explores sustainable ways to improve WASH and menstrual hygiene management in RMG factories

Dhaka, 14 February 2019 - icddrb in partnership with The Waterloo Foundation, UK have undertaken a new study to explore water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively known as WASH) situation in ready-made garments (RMG) factories in Bangladesh. The study aims to improve WASH and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) facilities and practices in two partnered factories and then disseminate evidence-based strategies for industry uptake. In order to raise awareness and engage staff in conversation to improve the condition, ‘Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Training’ was held today at Ahmed Fashions, Mirpur, Dhaka – one of two partnered factories.

While a staggering 4.2 million women are employed by about 4,500 factories in the country, little is known about the WASH, and MHM facilities and practices are in place. Started in March 2018, the study has conducted a baseline spot check assessment and subsequently remodelled WASH and MHM related infrastructures such as toilet chambers, hand washing stations, installing water dispensers and strengthening waste management. A local partner SMC Enterprise has supported the initiative by providing free sanitary napkins to women workers.

In the training session behaviour change communication strategies were stressed to engage and activate the staffs regarding proper water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Speaking on the occasion, Mahbub-Ul Alam, Assistant Scientist, Environmental Interventions Unit (EIU) of Infectious Diseases Division (IDD) at icddr,b and the principal investigator of the study said, “Only a little is known about the health and hygiene situations of millions of women who continue to work hard so that the country can thrive. We would like to explore the real scenario and ways to make it right for them. We would also expand to more factories in the future.”

He add: “icddr,b is indeed very grateful to Ahmed Fashions and SMC Enterprise for allowing us to undertake the study. We are confident that more and more factory owners in the country will come forward to ensure equality, dignity and health rights for those who menstruate and will act upon.”

SMC Enterprise has supported with 3,000 packets (15,000 pieces) of free sanitary napkins for the women workers. Mr Mizanur Rahman from SMC Enterprise also spoke on the occasion he said, “We are glad to be a part of this initiative, we are grateful to icddr,b for leading on this. We have a role to support more women-friendly workplace and will continue to support menstrual hygiene management initiative.”

Dr. Ayesha Afrin, Research Fellow at icddr,b facilitated the training while 50 staff from Ahmed Fashions participated.