Student receives CIHR scholarship to study violence against garment workers in Bangladesh

May 13/2014

Beyond the long hours and structurally unsafe buildings, female garment factory workers face unrelenting violence that has tremendous impact on their health.

Laila Rahman

Laila Rahman

That’s why Laila Rahman, a PhD Student in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health’s Social and Behavioral Health Sciences Division, is pursuing a project entitled: “Exploring womens’ perspectives of the multiple forms of violence against female garment workers in Bangladesh: A socio-ecological lens towards determining drivers and finding solutions.”

This spring, Rahman received a Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), valued at more than $100,000, to complete a research fellowship examining ways that gender influences health.

“These courageous women have been the vanguards to transform the traditional patriarchal society by stepping into the predominantly male world of production. In doing so, these women experience violence at work and at home, but their experience of these multiple forms of violence has not yet been studied,” said Rahman, referring to her motivation for the project.

“The cost of this violence is high, and the health consequences severe,” Rahman adds.

Rahman has a breadth of experience in global health issues thanks to a variety of research positions, including Senior Program Officer with the Population Council in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and consultant with UNICEF.

After her qualifying exam this fall, Rahman will initiate the project in consultation with Gillian Einstein, her PhD supervisor, and committee members Patricia O’Campo and Janice Du Mont.

“I am incredibly proud of Laila’s achievement, but not surprised!  Her idea to examine high rates of violence against women at the level of the workplace is especially smart because as an emotionally neutral space, it affords the opportunity to both understand the phenomena and effect strategies for change,” said Gillian Einstein, Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Director of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health.

“Laila’s highly significant project will both inform and improve women’s health. Understanding violence in the workplace may also improve the lives of men – both those who perpetrate it and those who inevitably will also experience it.”