In the recent couple of years migration of female workers from Bangladesh to different countries for jobs had been a much-talked-about issue, among others. Now both host and destination countries are under pressure to make sure no more untoward incident takes place involving the migrant female workers. A good number of allegations had been lodged by the female victims who faced on-job harassment. But they did see no remedy yet. Even the victims of harassment lost their mental ability to do work. The state-owned Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) in its study shows that overseas employment of female workers decreased by 45.01 per cent in the current calendar year up to August compared to the preceding year.
In response to the state's offer that made the overseas jobs for women completely inexpensive, they flew abroad aiming to get secured jobs with good payment but the dream of many of them was nipped in the bud in the face of untold torture and abuse unleashed by their employers. Newspapers are focusing on the issues highlighting the sexual abuse against many of the workers, no much punitive action could be taken against the concerned employers and criminals. So the outflow of female workers in recent times from Bangladesh declined.
In many cases it was found that the spouses could not contact their family members back at home over phone, as immediately after flying abroad in search of jobs the workers were not allowed by some quarters to keep contact with their parents, relatives and well-wishers month after month. Having no minimum technological know-how the victims did not find alternative ways to make a call back home despite trying while staying off work. What happened there is completely undiscovered till now and the victims are yet to disclose their bitter experience they faced during working abroad. They are reluctant to disclose it, as the society will never take it easily.
It is time to take a further move in terms of sending female workers alongside male workers after burying what happened in the past. We need to take prudential steps to this end for the sake of economic growth. If needed, a series of talks between concerned countries before sending the workers should be held where the security issue involving the female workers aspiring to be millionaires by earning abroad must be put in place in presence of top figures of the countries.
Why are the female wage-earners belonging to landless group of people facing the trouble abroad? The answer to the question should be expected from the state-level watchdogs keeping an eye on the manpower export activities. We should keep in mind that our growing economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate now of 7.86 per cent depends on foreign remittance apart from rise of the export volume and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in order to make import payment intact. So, failure to ensure proper security to the female workers while on duty abroad might turn the wheel of our economy backward. Ultimately, we may not achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2024 for not resolving the sensitive issues.
The demand for unskilled workers is rising in the Middle East countries where a significant number of workers are employed in different sectors. The overseas employment registered by the BMET from 1991 to 2018 reveals that 254,369 got jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), 127,457 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 8,299 in Kuwait, 71,368 in Oman, 28,082 in Qatar, 4,290 in Bahrain, 105,210 in Lebanon, 135,037 in Jordan, 531 in Libya, 6,612 in Malaysia, 1,268 Singapore, 151 in UK, 464 in Italy, 1579 in Hong Kong, 40 in Pakistan, 154 in Cyprus, 114 in Brunei, 16,821 in Mauritius and 1,206 in others. According to the statistics, presence of female workers in European countries and other developed economies is very poor in number.
Recently, Malaysia, an emerging economy, has shown optimism to hire workers, both male and female, from Bangladesh following a series of fruitful discussion with manpower exporting authorities that is a milestone achievement for the state, no doubt. Sending female workers to Malaysia is a good opportunity right now, since there arises no such allegation of harassment against the employers in the country.
If we wish to see a sustained economy in near future, there is no alternative to employment generation for reducing the poverty rate which is a curse for the economy. So, it is a must to bring the women into the mainstream of the workforce either in the country or outside the country to maintain the long-desired economic growth. The state has a crucial role to play by creating required opportunities for them so that they may be in the front line in all areas financially after being employed at home and abroad. The process of sending female workers abroad from now on should be given a fresh push forgetting about what happened in the past.
The writer is currently serving at Social Islami Bank Ltd.
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