22-year-old Baby Akhter is training to be a tailor in Jashore. She is known to be quite regular in her classes, however, one day she was seen to leave abruptly during training hours. When she returned after a week she told her instructor that she got ill and had to go home. This sudden absence from training is nothing unusual, in fact, this is the story of many female trainees during menstruation.
Women in Bangladesh face numerous physical and social challenges during their periods especially when they are on the move for work and school. Discomfort, absence, lack of focus among many other issues prevail among female trainees. Good hygiene practices of using sanitary napkins not only reduces the malpractices around menstruation but also prevent severe health crises. Menstrual hygiene is vital to the health, well-being, dignity, empowerment, mobility and productivity for women.
With the aim to support the project’s female trainees to overcome these challenges, B-SkillFUL initiated a pilot intervention with ACI Limited to provide affordable and immediate access to sanitary napkins at the training centres of the project. This intervention aims to reduce the rate of absenteeism as well as promote appropriate hygienic management of menstruation among female trainees.
This innovative private sector partnership will also promote decent work and provide a more accommodating training environment for women. In the signing ceremony, Mr. Shahed Kamal, General Manager, Sales Development, Mr. Amanullah Aman, Senior Zonal Sales Manager-Institution, Consumer Brands Division and Mr. Mozahidul Quyum, Senior Market Development Executive were present from ACI. Also present at the signing were Mr. Matiur Rahaman, Team Leader, Mr. Makbul Hossain, Senior Manager- Training Operations and other representatives of B-SkillFUL. Both the teams also discussed possibilities of scaling up the intervention in five other districts that the project currently operates in.
Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI) Limited, being one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh with a multinational heritage operates across the country through its four diversified strategic business units. ‘ACI Pharmaceuticals’ is dedicated to improve the health of people of Bangladesh through introduction of innovative and reliable Pharmaceuticals products. ‘ACI Consumer Brands’ is adding value to the daily life of consumers through its toiletries, home care, hygiene, electrical, electronics, mobile phones, salt, flour, food, rice, tea, edible oil, paints and international businesses. ‘ACI Agribusinesses’ is the largest integrator in Bangladesh in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, farm mechanisation, infrastructure development services and motorcycles. ‘ACI Retail Chain’ is the largest retail chain in the country operating through its 73 SHWAPNO outlets across the country by touching the lives of over 35,000 households each day.
Jointly funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and European Union (EU), Building Skills for Unemployed and Underemployed Labour (B-SkillFUL) project of Swisscontact aims to improve well-being of poor and disadvantaged men and women by increasing their access to the labour market and increased income, while safeguarding their fundamental rights at work. The project facilitates implementation of demandable skills training programmes and job placement through local Training Service Providers (TSPs) in Bogura, Tangail, Gazipur, Dinajpur, Joypurhat and Jashore. B-SkillFUL also raises awareness amongst potential trainees, graduates and informal sector enterprises on issues of Labour Rights and Decent Work (LRDW). The duration of the project Phase I is 4 years. Among its total beneficiaries, B-SkillFUL targets at least 55% women and disadvantaged community to improve their personal, economic and social wellbeing. In doing so, the project has already supported nearly 18,000 unemployed women to get skills training through partner TSPs. As a result, nearly 70% of them are now engaged in income generating activities, not only at home but also in informal enterprises.