A joint innovative training scheme has been launched aiming to create more women supervisors in the country's readymade garment (RMG) sector.
The pilot progrmame of the Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) showed female supervisors, who received the training, saw average 39 per cent increase in their salary and also contributed in boosting factory efficiency by 5.0 per cent, according to a statement.
Despite 80 per cent of line-operators in the sewing sections of the garment sector being women, 19 out of 20 line-supervisors are male, the statement said, adding that this means 90 per cent of the managerial talent in factories comes from just 20 per cent of the workforce.
Encouraged by the results, International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) jointly launched the GEAR initiative last week, aiming to scaling the programme to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories to promote career-progression opportunities for women in the RMG sector.
The launching of the programme took place at a high-level International Women's Day reception, hosted by the High Commission of Canada, at the residence of the commissioner in the city on March 04.
GEAR is a special initiative of Better Work Bangladesh - jointly implemented by IFC and ILO. Rolled out in 2016, the programme has made significant strides in advancing women's economic potential and improving access to better jobs and opportunities for women.
This year's International Women's Day theme is 'Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change'. GEAR powerfully reflects this theme by openly addressing workplace gender imbalance via its innovative, empowering and inclusive programme.
"I would slowly but surely like to rise from my current position as a supervisor to a line-chief, then an Assistant Production Manager and finally become a Production Manager," said Popy Aktar, a GEAR-trained supervisor who works for Sparrow Apparels Ltd in Gazipur.
To date, GEAR has trained 144 female workers, 58 of whom are now in supervisory roles. In ways that are both subtle and obvious, women also face discrimination and harassment on a daily basis and they often work at the lowest rung of the jobs ladder with little room for growth or up scaling of skills, said the statement.
"Canada is advancing gender equality worldwide through Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy. It is not just about hiring or buying from women. It's about recognising talent, capabilities, and value that is too often disregarded due to gender bias," said Benoit Préfontaine, Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka.
ILO Bangladesh Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen said: "Gender equality and gender empowerment was one of the core founding principles of the ILO in 1919. 100 years on and this is still central to our work. But much more needs to be done in advancing gender diversity - not just in the RMG sector but in every sector."
IFC Acting Country Manager Nuzhat Anwar said, "Increasing efficiency and broad-based employment is a key part of competitiveness for the RMG sector. There is a strong business case to having more females in leadership positions."
Through the GEAR programme, they hoped to actively work on increasing career-progression opportunities and promotion of women and addressing the gender imbalances in leadership roles in the garment sector, she added.
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