Fellow Since 2009
This profile was prepared when Safura Begum was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Safura is raising awareness and promoting healthier lifestyles and environments for jute industry workers in Bangladesh. An increase in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases has created a strong need within industries to forge consensus on the importance of basic health and safety issues. Safura is working as an "honest broker" to draw in unions, workers, and factory management to address health problems faced by industrial workers. This unique partnership is building awareness among workers of the occupational health risks associated with their professions, encouraging trade unions to be more proactive in negotiations for improved working conditions, and alerting factory management to be more sensitive to the health problems faced by workers. Safura has also developed linkages with local authorities to expand their knowledge of the existing health situation in the industry and gain more worker health referrals. Through these collaborations, she hopes to bring other factories under scrutiny so that they, too, address working conditions in their establishments.