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Myanmar women garment workers on study trip to B'desh
Jul '16
As part of its initiative to upscale the outreach of its social progamme for women workers in Myanmar's garment industry, a European Union funded project called Smart Myanmar organized a study mission to women's centres in Bangladesh to exchange ideas and share experiences which could be replicated in their own society.

The mission, comprising seven delegates drawn from Smart Myanmar, Thone Pann Hla, a civil society organization of women garment workers and two factory workers, met their Bangladeshi counterparts running women centres or cafés for workers in the garment sector and industry affiliates in Dhaka to gain an insight into best practices on outreach and educational programmes being followed in Bangladesh.

Thone Pann Hla has been running a Sunday café (womens centre) in Yangon since 2014 and is seeking to expand their approach to provide educational services and community support for a greater number of garment employees with the help of Smart Myanmar and its local partner Myanmar Garments Manufacturers Association (MGMA).

In Dhaka, the group was hosted by Awaj Foundation, which is operating more than half a dozen women's cafés in Bangladesh. It visited three women cafés and also met support groups such as legal advisors and medical support officers for the cafés.

Later, the group went to a garments factory in the Gazipur Industrial Zone, on the outskirts of Dhaka where the Smart staff met representatives of a Garment and Textile programme called Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry, being implemented by GIZ.

On their return from Dhaka on July 27, the delegates said they had found the exchange of know-how and experiences on women cafés and compliance awards “very useful” and that SMART could learn a lot from them.

Describing the exchange trip as “valuable”, Ms Khine Khine Nwe, Secretary General of MGMA said the timing of the trip was “perfect” as Smart and Thone Pann Hla, are already preparing to equip a second Sunday Café in October this year.

“Through this women garment workers club, we are expecting to promote the capacity of each and every women garment worker individual to upgrade their lifestyle. The experience they have gained from Dhaka was immensely instructive as we seek to replicate and even strengthen the existing approach,” Khine Khine New said in a press release issued by Smart Myanmar.

“From this exchange trip we have learnt ways to improve our current and future Sunday Cafes,” said Ms Than Dar Ko, Director of Thone Pann Hla, observing that it would lead towards women in the garment sector become more efficient and have healthier lifestyle.

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