Avery Dennison (NYSE:AVY), a global materials science and digital identification solutions company, has teamed up with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Mothers@Work programme, a national initiative, that promotes maternity rights and childcare support to women workers in the ready-made garments (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. Through this partnership, the Avery Dennison Foundation will provide funding of $200,000 over two years to expand the programme in 160 more RMG factories in Bangladesh. This will help build the capacity of their 2,000 staff including health workers and care providers and strengthen initiatives that provide maternity protection and breastfeeding support in the workplace, including providing breastfeeding spaces and breaks, paid maternity leave, healthcare, employment protection, and a safe work environment for working mothers and pregnant women.
The collaboration was announced at an event held in the national capital on March 12, 2023, in the presence of representatives of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). Bangladesh’s garment industry is the second largest clothing exporter in the world, contributing about 11 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, more than 80 per cent of apparel industry workers are female, without the right infrastructure for infant care. The funding will enhance the protection of maternity rights through BKMEA and BGMEA and support the RMG factories in establishing an environment for breastfeeding and childcare facilities for women workers in the workplace.
In addition to providing a core grant for the Mothers@Work programme, Avery Dennison is also organising a fundraising campaign involving its employees. Under this campaign, artwork by children of employees will be auctioned, and products created with the artwork will be sold online, with all proceeds going to the Mothers@Work initiative.
Speaking on the occasion, Kenny Liu, vice president and general manager, South Asia & EMEA, Apparel Solutions, Avery Dennison, said, “Avery Dennison is committed to improving the livelihood and diversity of garment workers. We are proud to partner with UNICEF in the Mothers@Work programme to support would-be and new mothers at the ready-made garment and knitwear factories. This aligns with our 2030 sustainability goal of making a positive social impact on our people and communities. Our values of sustainability and diversity, including inclusion and empowerment of women, drive us to create a supportive environment for all our workers, and we will continue to work towards a sustainable future.”
Mr Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative to Bangladesh, said, “Breastfeeding spaces, childcare facilities, paid maternity leave and safe work environments are not just central to the well-being of working mothers and their children, but also to the success of businesses competing for the best staff. UNICEF is grateful for the generous support from Avery Dennison, and for Avery Dennison’s efforts to meet the rights of children and their mothers working in the Bangladesh garment sector.”
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Labour and Employment of the Government of Bangladesh, and the ILO BetterWork Bangladesh programme, the Mothers@Work programme was implemented in 113 RMG factories during 2017-2021. With the current support from Avery Dennison, 160 more RMGs will be reached with the Mother@Work programme interventions over the next two years, and 144,000 female workers will be made aware and informed about maternity rights, breastfeeding support services, and nutritional requirements during pre-and post pregnancy. The participation of civil society organisations and most importantly, the RMG industry associations BGMEA and BKMEA has solidified the programme base for this initiative. The long-term goal is to mainstream Mothers@Work in the RMG sector to reach all female workers by 2030.
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