Assessing the Effectiveness of a Workplace Program for Female Garment Workers in Bangladesh

Over the last several years, particularly against the backdrop of major occupational health and safety disasters in this sector, there have been increasing efforts to address the health, safety, and wellbeing of garment factory workers in Bangladesh. This is particularly important for female factory workers who –although employment in the garment industry has improved the financial situation for women in Bangladesh overall –are vulnerable to health issues including insufficient access to water and sanitation, health taboos and prejudices, inadequate SRH knowledge, and missed work due to menstrual cycle pain and embarrassment.

The HERproject links multinational companies and their factories with local NGOs who create sustainable programs to improve the general and reproductive health of women employed in Bangladesh’s garment sector, many of whom are young and unmarried. The HERproject, currently implemented by three NGOs in Bangladesh, specifically addresses family planning, pre- and postnatal care, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, early detection of breast and ovarian cancer, and occupational health and safety. Business for Social Responsibility, which funds the HERproject, has commissioned the Population Council/Evidence Project to evaluate the model’s effectiveness in improving health outcomes for women working in 13 companies in seven districts in Bangladesh, as well as in improving key business outcomes for these companies.

The results from this study will be used to provide evidence of BSR’s HERproject’s impact on female garment workers’ knowledge across a variety of health domains and their acceptance of health products and services from on-site clinics. The study also will provide evidence and lessons that will be useful in the implementation of the HERproject model in other settings.