Mst. Momena Khatun is from Sirajganj District. Her father was a handloom worker, her mother also worked in the same profession on a daily wage basis. She is youngest child amidst the seven brothers and sisters she has. Back in 2005, when Momena was a mere 7th grader, Momena’s father suddenly became paralyzed and thus was unable to continue his work and support the family. As a result, Momena’s education had stopped as well. To support her family financially, she began working part-time
In 2008, Momena got married. Her husband was also a handloom worker. However, the livelihood they both earned was not enough to support their family. To cope up with the increasing financial crisis, the couple decided to move to Gazipur, to work in the ready-made garments (RMG) sector. In March the same year, she joined as a beginner with a monthly salary of BDT 1662 (USD 19.62). Right after a month, she joined another company, in a higher position as an operator with a salary of BDT 2800 (USD 33.05). Since then, she has been working in this sector to support her family.
During her employment in the current factory, CARE Bangladesh started the project Promoting worker well-being project*, funded by Target - USA. Momena participated in various trainings organized by the project on financial literacy, worker rights, labor law, women empowerment and much more. She also acquired skills on leadership, communication, problem solving and much more from these trainings.
Momena always tries to use her learnings from the trainings in every aspect of her life. Her good work and leadership also earned her a position in the safety committee of the factory. For a better working environment and to form a trade union in her factory, Momena had discussed her interest with one of her colleagues, Rasel Ahmed, for linkage to “Bangladesh Biplobi Sromik Federation” (a national trade union federation in Bangladesh that is affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions). After enrollment in the federation, they received some training related to trade union and federation formation and operation. They too had formed a trade union in the factory they worked in November 2019, where she was elected as one of the executive members of the union as a treasurer. To fulfill her duties in her new role, she received further orientations and trainings from CARE Bangladesh’s project. Now, she is able to conduct regular meetings herself and the factory management acknowledges this committee formed by Momena.
Momena and Rasel along with a few more of their colleagues still continue their union activities in the factory. As a part of her duty as a leading member of the trade union, she has taken initiative to collect the due maternity benefits for the female workers. One of her co-workers, was having difficulty receiving her maternity benefits in due time. Having heard about this, Momena instantly called a meeting with the factory HR personnel and they have taken immediate steps to pay all benefits as per policy. Right after this incident, management has started an audit system to follow up the maternity benefits.
Momena is one of many who have acquired leadership and problem-solving skills from CARE Bangladesh interventions and used that for the greater good in the workplace, community and society. It makes Momena immensely happy and proud to be able to work for the right of other women.
*Promoting worker well-being project is designed to ensure that partnerships with targeted stakeholders include workers’ voices and influence business plans and practices, by building a cadre of competent and experienced women worker leaders. Dignified Work for All will promote the wellbeing of women workers by strengthening their capacities and increasing the leadership, representation and voice of women in Bangladeshi industry and society.