Speakers at a technical workshop have stated that social protection services are good investments for the marginalised people.
This was a central theme during the inaugural ceremony of a two-day Technical Workshop on the Joint SDG Programme held recently to enhance social protection for female tea garden workers and their families in the Sylhet division.
The workshop was jointly held by four UN Agencies -- ILO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women -- in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Bangladesh Tea Association and Bangladesh Cha Sharmik Union.
This joint initiative is supervised by The UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Bangladesh and supported by Joint SDG Fund.
"Women constitute a majority of the people who pluck tea leaves for a living in Bangladesh. Despite their massive contributions to the growth of the industry, they are widely considered one of the most left behind groups in the country," UNFPA Representative Dr Asa Torkelsson said.
She emphasised the need to ensure continued investments in improving their quality of life.
UN Women Representative in Bangladesh, Shoko Ishikawa, called for the "need to reform social norms and stereotypes to create an environment, where women can thrive in their community."
UNICEF Chief of Social Policy, Evaluation & Research, Mekonnen Wolderborgis, stressed on how investing in social protection for the most marginalised also makes for a more stable and sustainable society for all.
Mahbuba Bilkis, deputy secretary of Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that the government will hold tripartite meeting to ensure increased capacity, efficient use of labour force as well as ensure the welfare of female tea garden workers and their family members.
Mashir Rahman, divisional commissioner of Sylhet, was the chief guest of the event, while ILO Director Tuomo Poutiainen chaired the meeting.
In his closing remarks, Poutiainen emphasised the need to think beyond the Covid-19 pandemic in planning the future of the country's tea industry.
"This is an exceptional industry with a bright future. We must collectively think about what this future will look like. In my view, it must be an industry, which is both profitable and meets the decent work needs of the workers," he said.
The workshop was attended by various tea garden managers, labour union leaders and workers, local government representatives and development organisations, where current knowledge of social protection services and human rights implementation in tea gardens was shared by the four UN agencies.
Originally published on The Daily Star