Suraiya Haque

Ashoka Fellow
Bangladesh,
Fellow Since 1999
PHULKI

Citation

This profile was prepared when Suraiya Haque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Urban working mothers, mostly from low-income groups, face great difficulty in terms of accessing child day care services. Most of them are forced to leave their children unattended in their slum dwellings exposing the children to great risk and inadequate nutrition. Mothers also tend to be less productive in the work place as at times they are unable to attend. Suraiya is the first person in Bangladesh to introduce and implement work place based day care centers. Her organization, Phulki, is the only such service-providing agency in the country. Till now she has established 24 community-based day cares and over 15 centers in factories, offices and government departments.
Suraiya's primary focus is on the garment industry, which employs over a million people, mostly women. Providing such support services for women workers is not only essential, but is required by law. Unfortunately, most organizations and enterprises choose to ignore this. Through developing community and work place day care models, Suraiya believes women's access to employment will increase. In addition, their children will be looked after in more secure surroundings. In the community-based day cares, she is involving the fathers who have traditionally been less responsible for childcare. There are monthly meetings with mothers to discuss various issues including cost-effective nutrition.
Suraiya sees the potential and need for spreading the model to other sectors such as NGOs and banking. She has instituted and handed over management of the day care center at BRAC, the largest NGO in the country. In addition, she was responsible for setting up similar centers at the Government Secretariat and the Women Affairs Directorate
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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