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Oikko (“unity”) – United for translating rights into action NOW

The garment industry is one of the most important and fastest growing economic sectors in Bangladesh. More than 4,5 million are working in the garment sector, 85-90 percent of which are women. The working conditions for the mainly female workers often are disastrous. This was tragically shown by incidents in the last years like the fire in the Tazreen factory or the collapse of the Rana Plaza, which killed more than 1.000 people and injured more than 2.000.

CARE contributes to the realization of fundamental rights of female workers in the Bangladesh ready-made-garment industry. The project’s main goal is a strong and united civil society that promotes the implementation of fundamental labor rights in the garment sector in Bangladesh.

The project is named “Oikko”, which is Bengali and means “unity”: Female garment workers, activists and trade unions should work together to achieve better working conditions in the garment industry. The actions empowers these groups to join forces for promoting the enforcement of the new labor law from July 2013 and for pursuing further reforms in the sector.

The Oikko projects aims at three different tiers:

1) Capacity and solidarity building among women
Many female workers do not know about their rights. To change that, 3.000 female workers take part in solidarity groups, where they are trained in labor law, human rights and equality. Thus, they can claim their rights in an active and independent way. The solidarity groups should also help women gain confidence and support.

2) Labor law activists and union members
Only 2 percent of the female textile workers in Bangladesh are member of a labor union. Often, they are afraid of being laid off if they stand in for their rights – or they don’t know that unions exist. The Oikko project should help the labor unions gain more members. Furthermore, more than 600 labor law activists and union members should be trained in order to provide workers with information about their rights.

3) Advocacy and Civil Society
By providing advocacy work, CARE fights for the implementation of labor laws and a higher  minimum wage in the garment industry. By forming networks, the Oikko project wants to enable women to realize their claims in order to improve  their working and living conditions.

For more detailed information regarding the project’s set-up, objectives and expected results, click here.

A recent study on the empowerment of the female workforce in the garment industry is available here.