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Bangladesh: Promoting Safe Migration for the Women of Bangladesh – BGD915

Bangladesh is one of the major labour-sending countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Revenue generated from migration is one of the driving forces of the economic growth of Bangladesh. According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment, and Training (BMET), in 2017 a total of 1,008,525 people went abroad for work and livelihood opportunities, with women workers, accounting for 12.1% of the total migrant workforce from Bangladesh. Female migration has been steadily increasing at a rate of 36%, 14%, 17% in 2016, 2017, 2018 respectively. The highest number of female workers (121,925) migrated in 2017.  Women have been migrating to countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon where migrant workers’ rights are still not fully protected through either national or international legislation.  However, in 2018, the migration rate for women dropped by a significant 17% due to widespread reports of abuse of women workers. This also led the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MEWOE) and BMET to be cautious in the recruitment of women migrants.

Poverty, gender discrimination and limited livelihood options in rural areas create a supply of women workers for countries with high demand for migrant workers. Limited mobility and access to services makes women susceptible to exploitation and abuse when they are forced to migrate or willingly choose to migrate. The exploitation and abuse take various forms at different stages as women lack information on safe migration, understanding on rights and entitlements to protect themselves both in country and in destination countries. Due to lesser costs of migration for women compared to men, families often force women to opt for unsafe migration to make a living. The absence of formal recruiting agents and appropriate service provisions in sub-districts combined with low levels of education and skills results in high levels of exploitation of women by middlemen, agents and employers in destination countries. At policy level a “zero-cost” female migration has been promoted. In reality, due to exploitation at different levels, the costs of migration are high. Due to prevailing social norms, female migration is associated with stigma, which creates a complex set of challenges for women when they return from overseas employment. This makes rebuilding lives after returning from overseas employment really difficult.

Overall Objective

To promote safe and planned migration particularly for women as a contribution to Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8.

Strategic Objective

1. Enhanced capacity of targeted Government institutions to develop gender responsive migration policy and procedures and to facilitate safe, orderly and gender sensitive migration for decent job placement of women workers

2. Women in rural communities are empowered to make informed choices and decisions about migration and are able to access services

Expected Results

ER1: Targeted institutions at district/ sub-district level possess relevant understanding and information to offer improved women friendly pre-departure support and services for migration

ER 2: Policy makers and civil society are equipped with knowledge on the implementation of international commitments and areas to be addressed through national commitments

ER 3: 3000 prospective women migrants at union level have access to information on safe migration and decent work

ER 4: CBOs and Union Digital Centers have improved capacity to facilitate services to aspirant women migrants at national/district/sub-district level

Main Activities
  •  Development of Information Package
  •  Review government training curriculum for addressing women and gender issues
  •  Conduct Training of Trainers for  BMET & TTC
  •  Evidence based advocacy meetings at upazila level
  •  Advocacy meetings with stakeholders at district level
  •  Organization of annual dialogue sessions/meetings between migrants and government officials/relevant stakeholders
  •  Advocacy meetings with CEDAW Committee
  •  Advocacy meetings on ILO convention C189 and GCM 
  •  Launch and publishing of case study report of Women Migrant Workers
  •  Desk Study on comparative scenario of female migrant workers in South Asia region
  •  Round-table dialogue on case-story and study findings with key stakeholders
  •  Organize Community Meetings at Union level for community mobilization
  •  Training of women information champions
  •  Life skills based pre-decision orientation on safe migration, risk & vulnerabilities, women empowerment, rights & legal support, communication etc.
  •  Conduct 120 court yard meetings on safe migration including returnee migrants
  •  Develop video documentation and conduct screening sessions
  •  Establishing Migration Corners at UDCs (Union Digital Centres)
  •  Capacity building of Union Digital Center entrepreneurs
  •  Forming and functionalizing CBOs of migrants at Upazila level
  •  Training on Migration and Gender for  CBOs‘ members/leaders
  •  UDC training for UP Secretary and UDC entrepreneurs on safe migration
  •  Establishing referral linkages for migration related services, info and support  at BMET, DEMO, TTC, UDC & others

Two sub-districts of Dhaka district, namely, Keraniganj and Nawabganj of Dhaka District


15,000 women will directly benefit from the project through capacity building or services accessed through CBOs, Union Digital Centers or information received from women information champions or relatives who received training. It is expected that approximately 30,000 people in these two upazilas will indirectly benefit from increased understanding of challenges of migration and improved institutional capacity of the government institutions.


01.11.2019 – 30.09.2021

Total Budget

€ 250,000

Partner Organisation

Welfare Association for the rights of Bangladeshi Emigrants Development Foundation (WARBE-DF)


This project is funded through the Silk Routes Facility. The Silk Routes Facility is a component of the larger project, “Improving Migration Management in the Silk Routes Countries” funded by the European Union and implemented by ICMPD.

This project contributes to the following sustainable development goals (SDGs):