Pakhi Begum left Bangladesh for Dubai to work as a maid, only to find that her recruiter had sold her into domestic servitude. After months of hard labour and abuse she fell ill and was sent back to Bangladesh without being paid. UN Women has been working to protect the rights of women migrant workers in Bangladesh since 2005, partnering with government ministries. When the government established the country’s first resource centre for migrant workers in 2009, UN Women ensured that it would provide women like Pakhi with easier access to information about safe migration.
According to government sources, the number of Bangladeshi women migrant workers in 2011 totaled approximately 30,500, and their remittances totaled US$ 11.1 billion. Those earnings account for roughly 13 per cent of the country’s GDP.
In December 2011 several activities were organized by the government during the global “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence” campaign to raise awareness about violence against women migrant workers. Through one UN Women-funded network, events were held in three districts: Rangamati, Rajshahi and Faridpur (the latter pictured above). Among the participants were returnee women migrant workers, aspiring women migrant workers, local NGO workers and government officials.