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SEEMA – Solidarity and Empowerment through Education, Motivation & Awareness

The SEEMA project, implemented by CARE with funding from the European Commission and the Austrian Development Agency, supports female garment workers in building agency and strengthening solidarity and relations towards collective action and claiming of their rights.

At the same time, SEEMA focuses on changing institutional norms and practices. Overall, about 2 million female garment workers will benefit from improved working conditions and societal awareness regarding women’s rights.

The garment industry is one of the largest employment sectors in Bangladesh. Female garment workers are facing numerous obstacles: low  wages and wage discrimination, irregular payment, forced overtime, poor working environment, physical and sexual harassment, among others.

Eventually, many poor women engage in sex work: Caught in a vicious cycle, they are rejected by their families and society, denied access to basic services, and subject to discrimination, stigmatization, abuse, and incarceration. Violence towards sex workers is not only socially accepted but often supported by authorities, religious leaders and the wider community. Female garment and sex workers have limited human capital and are less likely to benefit from income and economic growth.

CARE’s SEEMA project primarily focuses on strengthening women working in the garment industries as well as sex workers in the Dhaka, Tongi and Tangail areas. In order to sustainably improve these women’s rights and living standards, CARE employs a multi-level Approach:

1) Capacity and solidarity building among women

CARE supports life skills training as well as capacity building in human rights, labour rights and HIV/AIDS prevention in order to strengthen linkages between the women and create platforms for collective action. Additionally, CARE provides psychosocial support to strengthen solidarity and confidence among the women’s groups.

2) Awareness raising and enforcement of human rights legislation

In order to support the recognition and respect of garment and sex workers’ rights, SEEMA assists the women in establishing favourable relations and structure to advocate for fairer working conditions, the promotion and protection of legal and human rights, and the reduction of violence against women.

3) Improving the institutional environment

In this component, CARE focuses on capacity and coalition building and engagement with service providers, e.g. government institutions, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturing Association (BGMEA), civil society and media towards protecting and respecting the human rights of female garment and sex workers and their children.

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