Page Title: CONTEXT
The enthusiasm with which the convention of the rights of the child was received in Bangladesh quickly dissipated as difficulties in implementation arose. It is recognized both by the government and civil society that countless children in Bangladesh are routinely denied their basic human rights. However the scope of the problem is such that for too many children the promises of the convention remain hollow. Millions of children still receive no education, work long hours under hazardous conditions, or languish in inhumane conditions in institutions. Others live in slums or squatters camps without proper hygiene or sanitation.
It remains for organizations like Phulki to come forward and tackle some of these problems. If we are to have a healthy and intelligent population, special attention must be paid to the physical and mental well being of the young.To do nothing is to condone this blot on our national consciousness. In trying to provide the right atmosphere for the psycho-social development of both women and children Phulki has begun to process brining a quality of life that will have a lasting effect for those touched by our work.
The capital city of Bangladesh receives more than a million rural migrants a year! Most are forced to live in the many slums that have grown up in most unsanitary conditions. Often all members of a migrants family have to work for sheer survival. Mothers who traditionally stayed at home to care for their children must now work either in garment factories, as brick chippers on building sites or in domestic service. Under these conditions infants and children are left in the care of their older siblings at the expense of their own welfare and schooling. They thus loose their childhood. In some situations young children are completely neglected and left to live off the streets. In all such cases, the children of the poor are faced with extreme sufferings. Some poor working mothers have to raise their children as single parents yet have to work to survive. However with Phulkis help, for the first time these women realize they do have the ability, capacity and the right, to lift themselves out of their predicament.
In 1997 the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) Human Development Report found that out of 175 countries, Bangladeshi standards of womens employment, management and leadership positions, left them way below average in 144th place.
Much of the struggle for womens empowerment stems from rural patriarchy and the discrepancy between statute and practice in the towns. Cultural and religious taboos on male and female interaction have been the greatest obstacle to womens ability to move away from gender stereotyping and stigmatized rules. Although in moving to the city to work women are breaking many of these taboos once they arrive in Dhaka and other industrial centers they face new barriers to their welfare. Laws that regulate womens working hours and conditions are not always accurately implemented. Also they often do not take account of the religious personal law systems which enhance existing vulnerabilities in the legal system and affect and victimize the personal lives of the citizens, especially women.
It is through work that women may lift themselves and their children out of poverty. The government of Bangladesh has realized that womens income is beneficial in upgrading the lifestyle of the lower and middle class households. At the same time Export-orientated industries have provided a means of work for many poor women. In increasing the working opportunities for women the garment industries have brought women out of the home. These women are therefore spearheading a social revolution by changing the way women are viewed in Bangladesh.
Phulki wants to ensure that women can work to better their lot without compromising the safety and happiness of their children. As women make up 80 per cent of the garment industry workforce it is here that the pioneering work of establishing day care has begun. By providing child-care, womens access to employment will increase; the efficiency and skill of those already working will be improved and with peace of mind mothers will contribute a higher level of productivity. With the knowledge that their childrens mental and physical development is being nurtured safely there is less absenteeism and a stronger, more motivated workforce. Phulki is therefore creating a system that is highly profitable for the employer, employee and dependent children. It is therefore a system which can be sustained well into the future a win win situation.