Workspaces are often designed with functionality as the primary objective; gender considerations are yet to be integrated into office design for a large number of organisations in Bangladesh. What follows is a set of extremely simple things that organisations can do to make the office a safe, women-friendly place.
Provide menstrual hygiene support
In this day and age, sanitary napkins in the office should be a norm and not a revolution. Sadly, the majority of workplaces in Bangladesh are yet to follow through on this principle. While smaller companies or start-ups may face cost constraints in procuring and maintaining vending machines, it is very much possible to maintain and replenish a stock of sanitary napkins in women’s washrooms without hurting the bottom line.
Create private resting spaces
Breakrooms at work are necessary and helpful, but they can hardly be called private. A woman experiencing cramps or a new mother who needs to pump may very well require a calm, separate space to rest a little before they can get back to work. In absence of enough privacy, they are forced to experience discomfort either because they cannot find a good place to be, or because of the self-consciousness that commonly arises from having many eyes on you in a space shared with many people.
Pay equal attention to female support staff
There are times when office spaces cater to the needs of some of their female team members but inadvertently forget the others. For example, many offices have gender-segregated washrooms for core team members, but a single, ill-maintained washroom shared between female and male support staff. The women in these roles deserve the same amount of attention to their basic needs as those in white-collar positions, and it is important that organisations do not overlook this simple tenet of equality.
Tasmiah is a BBA (Finance) graduate from IBA, Dhaka University. She is currently working in the development sector and studying for a master’s degree in economics at East West University. Reach her with your thoughts and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.