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Dhaka, BANGLADESH – The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Nutrition International jointly launched a new initiative called ‘Nutrition of Working Women (NoWW)’ to improve nutrition of workers of garment factories in Bangladesh.

The launch was held at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 31, 2019. Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Swapon, MP, Honorable Whip, Bangladesh Parliament was present as the chief guest on the occasion.  The program was chaired by Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, 2nd Vice President, BKMEA.

Through a joint investment of BKMEA and Nutrition International supported by the Government of Canada, the NoWW initiative aims to benefit a total of 240,000 workers including 180,000 women employed in garment factories in Bangladesh located in Greater Dhaka and Narayanganj over a period of 18 months.

“Malnutrition and low access to resource and information prevent a majority of women workers from being fully productive despite gaining skills.  As a result this sector loses many skilled workers. I am confident that this initiative will improve the health and nutrition of our workers and thereby contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.”― Chief Guest Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Swapon, Whip, Bangladesh Parliament and organizing secretary of Central Executive Committee, Bangladesh Awami League

Around 3 million women are employed in the garment sector in Bangladesh and constitute around 75 percentage of the total workforce employed in this sector. However, with around 40% of Bangladeshi women between 18 and 49 years of age anaemic, the burden of under-nutrition among women of reproductive age and adolescent girls is significant. This impacts their physical well-being, earning potential and reduces their productivity.

“Nutrition International has been working closely with the Government of Bangladesh for over 20 years to deliver low cost, high-impact nutrition interventions. With more women working in Bangladesh, NoWW gives us a unique opportunity to reach working women in factories with improved nutrition. We are committed to work alongside BKMEA for a well-nourished and productive women workforce in Bangladesh.”  ― Brian Harrigan, Vice President Strategy and Growth, Nutrition International.

As part of this initiative, 20 master trainers will be trained, and will then train 720 trainers on anaemia, consumption of iron and folic acid tablets and nutrition education. Women workers will receive a weekly iron and folic acid tablet to protect them from anaemia. Along with women, men workers will also receive nutrition and diet counselling and hygiene and sanitation education so that they are aware of the unique health and nutrition needs of both women and men.

“To sustain as a middle income country as well as to maintain the overall socioeconomic development, it is important to have a healthy and productive working force. I thank Nutrition International, the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for introducing this welfare project to benefit a large number of women workers and ensure a healthy and productive working force.” ― Shamim Ehsan, 2nd Vice President, BKMEA

High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh, Benoit Préfontaine; Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Habibur Rahman Khan; Director General, Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) Dr. Md. Shah Nawaz; ; International Labour Organisation’s Country Director, Tuomo Poutiainen, Nutrition International Bangladesh’s Country Director, Zaki Hasan and BKMEA’s Vice President (Finance)  Homaun Kabir Khan Shilpi also attended the launch, among others.

To find out more about NI’s partnership with BKMEA, consult our fact sheet here