6 years ago

Little room for female garment workers in superior role: Study

Call to form gender balanced leadership teams

Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

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Representation of female workers at the supervisory level in the readymade garment factories remains poor due to their lack of expertise, training and education, according to a study.

Only three to four per cent of female workers hold supervisory positions in the sector although women make up majority of the workforce, it said.

The study was released at an event styled 'Dialogue on Gender Equality at Workplace: Success and Challenges of Career Advancement' organised by Care Bangladesh in association with UN Women and Colors of Benneton on Tuesday.

At the function, the speakers highlighted the capacity building training programmes for female workers to develop their leadership role.

Mahmuda Sharmeen Benu, additional secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and Md Ashraf Shameen, additional secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, spoke as the special guests.

Zia Chowdhury, Country Director of Care Bangladesh, and Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, also spoke.

Later, at a panel discussion, the participants emphasised the need for creating gender balanced leadership teams with 50:50 male to female ratio in the RMG sector.

They also called for developing the capacity of women to help grow them as leaders.

There are almost 5000 ready-made garments factories in Bangladesh, contributing to a $ 24 billion in a year (USD2013-14). Women account for 60 to 70 per cent of the RMG workforce with low literacy level, knowledge and little control over working conditions, they said.

Ashraf Shamim, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, ED, BILS, and Shamima Pervin, a gender expert and representative of IFC, took part in the panel discussion.

At the programme, Care Bangladesh, in association with UN Women and Colors of Benneton, launched a mobile app named 'Suraksha' to help protect RMG workers from sexual abuses.

Expressing her concern over poor representation of women in leadership, Mahmuda Sharmeen Benu said the government is working to harness the female workers' talent as part of its plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Training for male workers is also needed to bring a change in their attitude towards women at workplaces, she added.

Ms Shoko Ishikawa said traditional and stereotypical attitude towards women should be changed to curb incidents of sexual abuse at workplaces.

All should work together to stop sexual violence on women and build up gender equality in the RMG sector as the female workers add millions of dollar every year to the country's economy, she added.

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