Speakers at a roundtable yesterday urged the government to establish effective and well-founded reintegration programmes for women migrant workers, providing necessary facilities such as financial guidance and psychological support.
Stressing the need for trained staff for the programmes, they said during the reintegration stage, government agencies have to closely follow up on women migrants to protect them from social isolation, violence, and disempowerment.
Care Bangladesh with support from migrant rights group Warbe Development Foundation and The Daily Star organised the roundtable at The Daily Star Centre in the capital.
Speakers said the government can initiate multiple orientation sessions throughout all three migration stages, from pre-departure to return, to guide female migrants.
They said government need to hire more trained staff to provide specific help to migrants in all their services.
Bangladesh missions abroad should include reproductive healthcare services and protection for victims of violence. Besides, the government should establish offices that can serve as help desks or resource centres at the airport in destination country, they said.
It should be made mandatory for the missions to regularly check up on woman migrant workers, they added.
For female domestic workers, missions should have services where consultants can go visit them. There should be alternative methods so that workers are not required to visit in-person to be able to access services, said the speakers.
They said many NGOs and CSOs want to offer support to migrants. Governments can collaborate with them to further strengthen services.
Presenting a research paper, Care Bangladesh Programme Manager Mostafa Sorower said countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia need to ensure better regional cooperation to monitor and facilitate overall migration process for their woman workers.
They need to continue pushing destination countries to provide protection to female migrant workers, especially to domestic workers, he said.
Besides, sending countries should develop better reintegration programmes for returning woman migrants, closely follow up on the workers, and prevent them from becoming disempowered after return, he added.
Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of Warbe Development Foundation, said Bangladesh government banned sending female migrant workers abroad thrice in the past.
Whenever such ban was imposed, human trafficking increased, he said.
It is not expected that the government will stop sending woman migrant workers abroad but it is expected that the government ensures their safety, he added.
Captain (retd) Ikram Hossain, country coordinator of International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Bangladesh, said ensuring international accreditation of skills certificate of female migrants will increase their bargaining capacity.
There is plenty of scope to work on this area, he said.
Addressing as chief guest, Gloria Jharna Sarker, member of Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development, urged female migrant workers to build their own capacity including developing knowledge on migration process.
Woman migrant workers need to develop their language skills before going abroad, said Gloria, also a reserved seat lawmaker.
Women migrants who returned from Saudi Arabia and Jordan shared their perilous experiences as well as successes at the roundtable.
Jasiya Khatoon, director of Warbe, and Farida Yeasmin, director of Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association spoke at the discussion among others.