Vol. 5 Num 121 Thu. September 23, 2004  

Overseas Employment
'Ensure equal access for women'

Speakers at a discussion yesterday called on the government to ensure equal access to overseas employment for both men and women.

Diversification of overseas employment opportunities should actively be promoted for both male and female, they said.

Bangladesh Migration Development Forum (BMDF) organised the discussion in the city.

The participants said all the international treaties and convention regarding the protection of the rights of migrant workers should be examined thoroughly for ratification and reflected in the government's policy on overseas employment.

A sound migration policy is very important for developing countries like Bangladesh, said Dalil Uddin Mandal, secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment.

Referring to trafficking in women, he said acute unemployment crisis is partly responsible for it.

Some of the women who want to go abroad illegally in search of jobs fell victim to trafficking, Mandol said.

He said the government was going to sign agreements with countries recruiting workers so that nobody falls victim to harassment.

Ferdous Ara Begum, joint secretary of the ministry of women and children affairs, called for cooperation among foreign, expatriates' welfare, labour and women and children affairs ministries to formulate a sound migration policy.

"After the expiry of MFA (Multi-Fibre Agreement), many female garment workers would be out of job. So we have to pay attention to female migrant workers to face the situation," she said.

She also said there should not be any ban on aged working women who want to migrate for jobs.

Michele Foster, deputy high commissioner of Australia, said female migrant workers account for 10 percent of total migrant workers in Bangladesh, but in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines the number of female migrant workers are much higher.

Justin MacDermott, officer-in-charge of International Organisation for Migration, presided over the discussion.