Originally published in unicef.org on 25 July 2020

The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Bangladesh – and many other countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia – has been severe, mostly due to the large proportion of low-wage workers. The situation is likely to worsen unless there is renewed focus on investing in policies, practices and programmes that support workers and their families while also promoting more resilient business models. Collaboration between key public and private sector stakeholders – in Bangladesh and globally – will be critical to supporting workers and their families in the world’s second largest RMG sector as they cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Efforts will need to focus on:

  • Helping factories meet the government’s reopening requirements;
  • Distributing evidence-based, accurate public health and hygiene information, along with guidance that echoes government guidelines on how best to stay safe at work; and
  • Prioritizing environmental, social and governance issues going forward, while aiming to rebuild the post-pandemic RMG industry using sustainable and resilient business models.

Within a framework of ‘recover and reimagine’, UNICEF will pursue post-pandemic efforts based on these urgent priorities:

  • Providing continuity of services – including supporting the vital links between health, nutrition and WASH – to increase the resilience of workers and their families in the workplace and at home.
  • Developing better social protection mechanisms that offer a basic living wage and assistance for the most vulnerable workers and families, not only during this crisis and its aftermath but also beyond to build resilience to such shocks in the future; and
  • Placing human rights and children’s rights at the core of our efforts, understanding that the return on investment in addressing social issues and fostering sustainability is a better future for everyone.