Garment sector delegation visits Dhaka to study women’s centres

Exchanges between women garment industry workers in Myanmar and Bangladesh are being strengthened by a multi-million euro project funded by the European Union.

A seven-member women’s delegation returned to Yangon on July 27 after a study trip to Dhaka as part of the EU-funded SMART Myanmar project, that has been helping to build capacity in the garment sector for more than 3.5 years.

The trip was arranged by SMART and its local partner, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers’ Association, and involved Thone Pann Hla, a civil society group of women garment workers, SMART said in a statement.

Thone Pann Hla has an office in downtown Yangon and has run a weekly “Sunday café” in outer Hlaing Tharyar Township since 2014.

The main objective of the trip, that came as SMART and Thone Pann Hla are planning to scale-up the café, was to visit similar centres for women in Dhaka run by the Awaj Foundation, a group that campaigns for the rights of workers.

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Services provided at the foundation’s centres, or “women’s cafés” as they are known, include legal advice and medical support, the statement said.

“From this exchange trip, we have learnt ways to improve our current and future Sunday Cafes,” Ma Than Ka Do, the director of Thone Pann Hla, was quoted as saying.

“With the endorsement and support of MGMA and SMART, Thone Pann Hla will continue to help women garment workers to have a healthier and more secure lifestyle,” she said.

Ma Than Kar Do was one of four Thone Pann Hla members on the trip, two of whom work at garment factories. The trip also included three members of the SMART Myanmar project team.

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