Returnee migrants, rights activists, trade unionists, development partners as well as government and NGO officials called for enhancing budgetary allocations for protection of migrants’ welfare at home and abroad.
Speaking at a Migration Seminar on Gender Responsive Budget to Empower Women Migrants, they said that the country’s female migrant workers who were employed as domestic workers were facing various problems abroad and they needed immediate helps from the government.
Senior government and NGO officials stressed the need for job diversifications for the female workers considering vulnerabilities of the domestic workers.
They also called for sending skilled workers abroad, especially providing garment and care giving training to them.
The Institute of Informatics and Development, Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendra and WARBE Development Foundation jointly hosted the seminar at Probashi Kalyan Bhaban with support from British Council’s Prokas Programme.
Returnee migrant Swapna Begum of Faridpur said that she had migrated to Oman and Jordan to work as domestic help and she suffered abuse, torture and underpayment in both the countries.
She appealed to the government to provide protection to women workers abroad.
She demanded punishment of middlemen who cheat the vulnerable migrants.
Speaking as the chief guest, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry secretary Rownaq Jahan said that the government launched countrywide massive programmes since April to disseminate information about safe migration.
‘The aspirant migrants must acquire knowledge about safe migration before their departure,’ she said, adding that the government has decided to provide them training and send them as skilled workers.
The secretary sought cooperation of all stakeholders to minimize the problems of this sector.
Presiding over the opening session, Ain O Salis Kendra executive director Sheepa Hafiza said that adequate budget should be allocated to ensure protection for the country’s migrant workers facing problems.
WARBE DF chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that forging partnership were recommended by Global Compact on Migration and the 2030 agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Working through partnership between countries of origins and destinations, all problems of the migrants could be resolved, he said.
Wage Earners Welfare Board director general Gazi Muhammad Julhas called for sending skilled workers and strengthening labour wings abroad.
EWOE ministry’s additional secretary Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said that the government was working to ensure safe, orderly, regular and responsible migration from Bangladesh.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam said that migrant workers and their family members should be covered by safety net programmes.
On return home, the female migrants were facing health and social problems and they should get help from the government’s budget, he said.
BRAC migration programme head Shariful Islam said that migrant workers were returning home every day, but they were yet to get help from the government.
BRAC provided emergency assistance to over 1300 returnee migrants last year, he said, adding that BRAC has already prepared a database of 20,000 returnee migrants.
Trade Union leader Abul Hossain said that Bangladesh should immediately ratify ILO Convention 189 to recognize the rights of domestic workers at home and then the country could bargain for its migrants working abroad.
IID chief executive Sayeed Ahamed, BNSK executive director Sumiya Islam, BMET director Nurul Islam and BOESL deputy general manager Ariful Haque made presentations from their respective organizations.
International Organization for Migration chief of mission in Bangladesh Giorgi Gigauri, British Council’s prokas programme team leader Jerry Fox, , EWOE ministry’s additional secretaries Nojibul Islam and Sabiha Parveen, joint secretary Nasreen Jahan and ILO national programme officer Rahnuma Salam Khan, among other spoke.