Bangladesh's garment industry is colossal, accounting for 78% of the country's exports. The sector employs four million workers, over 58% of whom are women.
As a result of the lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health, 20% of the workers in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry cannot come to work due to related health complexities. In addition, they spend around 10% of their monthly salary on various forms of illness. The STITCH Project was set up to integrate Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and services in this sector, by co-designing and delivering information and training to future RMG workers and healthcare providers.
“I got SRHR training from the Netherlands. We have modules that help to prepare for classes,” shared Nargis Akter, SRHR trainer at the Ayat Skill Development Centre. “And then [we] teach using flip charts, videos, group study, face to face study.”
The project's significance was also underscored by Sanjeeb Drong, director of the Indigenous Peoples Development Services. “STITCH initiated something new for our country [...] This is the first time in Bangladesh that an SRHR publication has been made in Indigenous language,” he said.
Anthropologist Ellen Bal and various PhD candidates of the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) implemented the STITCH research project. In the past 4.5 years, FSS and the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS-VU) closely collaborated to ensure the project's successful execution.
STITCH Project is part of Orange Knowledge programme which is funded by Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Coordinated by Nuffic.