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H&M Foundation supports women RMG workers in Bangladesh

Jul '20
Pic: H&M Foundation/Jorja Currington/CARE
Pic: H&M Foundation/Jorja Currington/CARE
The non-profit H&M Foundation has initiated a long-term project to support women readymade garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh, starting with their urgent needs connected to COVID-19. As a first step, it has donated SEK 12 million ($1.3 million) to WaterAid, CARE and Save the Children. The foundation has also called for others to show their support.

The $1.3 million donation is meant to provide around 76,000 young women, their families and community members in and around Dhaka with emergency relief, also reaching 1 million people with messages on COVID-19 and hygiene practices.

“We will directly support women and their families with for example cash assistance for food, medication and other necessities, provide COVID-19 awareness raising and testing, hygiene materials and handwashing facilities. We hope to see more donors show their support in different ways", said Carola Tembe, program manager, H&M Foundation.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, which is a huge challenge when trying to contain the impact of a pandemic. The capacity of the health system is being put to the test and requires considerable external support.

“Together with the H&M Foundation we will address the immediate needs of improved hygiene in the fight against COVID-19, while building towards long term sustainable improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene services. An integrated approach is fundamental for building sustainable, inclusive and resilient societies,” said Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, CEO of WaterAid Sweden.

In addition to the health impacts of the pandemic, the subsequent lockdown has had devastating economic impact. The emergency relief efforts are being carried out from May to December 2020 with the aim of having positive effects well after that.

“We will provide vulnerable women with subsistence allowance and access to health and gender-based violence support, also reaching thousands of community members. The donation from the H&M Foundation will support women and their communities in this time of great need,” said Merlijn van Waas, head of Sustainable Development, CARE Nederland.

The initiative also includes Save the Children whose efforts will target children of women garments workers affected by COVID-19 securing their child protection and education rights.

“We will support them with solutions that they can use to ensure their children’s education and protection from violence or abuse. Ultimately helping these children to build a better life,” said Onno van Manen, country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh.

In addition to the COVID-19 related emergency relief donation, H&M Foundation is also taking on a long-term commitment, starting in the autumn of 2020, involving important players from different sectors to achieve systemic long-lasting change, equipping women RMG workers in Bangladesh for a future where work is defined by automation and digitalisation.

“Together with different partners we will make upskilling, re-skilling, digital literacy efforts and entrepreneurship available to women garment workers with the aim to increase their future employability,” said Tembe.

The H&M Foundation is privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RKS)

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