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OIKKO, which means “unity” in Bangla, was a three-year project that aimed to address the limited influence civil society has had on legal compliance, respect for workers’ rights, and workplace conditions in the ready-made garment sector. The project significantly contributed to improved conditions for women workers at both the community and workplace levels by addressing the issues that were affecting their lives. Collective bargaining, negotiation, and problem-solving improved significantly through OIKKO.

OIKKO worked with 40 trade unions/federations to strengthen their outreach activities and increase women workers’ participation in the groups. During the project period, the unions reached around 38,000 ready-made garment (RMG) workers through outreach programs, and more than 22,800 workers were motivated to join.

The project led to the formation of the OIKKO Civil Society (CSO) Platform, which works as an advocacy and lobbying group in the sector. The OIKKO CSO Platform has used the OIKKO project’s findings on labor laws and living wages to advocate for workers’ issues at the national level.

Employees benefited from improved pay, compensation, bonuses, and workplace conditions

Women ready-made garment workers raised demands in both workplaces for the first time

Project achievements

  • OIKKO succeeded in influencing 13 different types of social actors, ranging from individuals such as EKATA members and male community members, to groups of individuals such as EKATA groups and homeowners, to individual organizations such as factories.
  • In the project evaluation, 17 outcomes provided clear evidence that women ready-made garment workers raised demands in both workplaces and communities – either for the first time or in a significantly new way – at least in part because of OIKKO. These outcomes are significant, as workers are often either unaware of their rights or are unwilling or unable to raise rights-based demands to their employer.
  • Twelve of the demands by women RMG workers resulted in responses from responsible parties (local authorities, service providers, etc.).
  • A number of workers took on leadership roles organizing and representing other workers, which they had not done previously. This emergence of new worker leaders was central to the achievement of a number of outcomes.
  • Four of the outcomes benefited multiple employees – in one case over 400 – with improved pay, compensation, bonuses, and workplace conditions.

The importance of OIKKO

EKATA (Empowerment, Knowledge and Transformative Action) groups are a unique model developed and tested by CARE Bangladesh. Groups receive nine months of engagement on rights and life skills, which supports women in developing collective action plans to resolve the issues that affect them. CARE’s research for this project found the EKATA approach, combined with support to trade unions, is more effective than training in supporting worker empowerment.


Outcome Harvesting Evaluation of OIKKO (Unity): Bangladesh

OIKKO was a 3-year project delivered by CARE Bangladesh with support from CARE Austria, to promote the implementation of fundamental labour rights in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh.

Read the report on CARE Evaluations

OIKKO Learning Brief

In 2018 CARE’s Made by Women strategy commissioned an outcome harvesting evaluation to help understand the range of outcomes achieved by OIKKO. This learning brief outlines the major findings and lessons learned.

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