A BRAC University research team recently disseminated key findings of their study looking into the causes and consequences of an ongoing declining trend of women workers in Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) industry.
Available at: https://etibd.org/news/declining_women_workers/, the study on “Declining Women Workers in the Bangladesh RMG Industry” was led by Professor Dr. Shahidur Rahman. The research team included Dr Wasiqur Rahman Khan, Dr Shibly Shahrier and Shaan Washique Akbar of the Department of Economics and Social Sciences (ESS).
Over the past 40 years, the RMG industry’s growth has triggered a social change by generating considerable formal employment opportunities for women. The industry has made women visible in the labour market and empowered in society.
However, in recent years the proportion of women workers in the sector has been on the decline. Women no longer comprise 80% of the labour force in the RMG sector – the most recent estimates show the share of women workers to be less than 55%.
These changes have significant implications for women’s economic empowerment, as well as the wellbeing of their families and communities. It is also likely to impact on business models for manufacturers and buyers alike and have a negative impact on the national development agenda.
The initiative on conducting the research was undertaken by German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, ETI Bangladesh under Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change (STITCH) and BRAC University. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe.
The key findings were presented by Dr. Shahidur Rahman through a multistakeholder event organized by ETI Bangladesh and GIZ at Amari Dhaka on 6 March 2023 marking International Women’s Day 2023, which was celebrated on March 8. Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Country Economist, UNDP, Bangladesh, Naureen Chowdhury, Global Lead Workers Rights, Laudes Foundation, China Rahman, Women Secretary, IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee, Director, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), spoke as panel guests.
Dr. Michael Klode, Project Manager, Programme for Sustainability in the Textile and Leather Sector (STILE), GIZ, gave the welcome speech focusing on the importance and background of the study. Abil Bin Amin, Country Manager, ETI Bangladesh, gave the closing remarks.
Participants of the event included representatives from the BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, trade unions, global brands, academia, CSOs, donor agencies, NGOs, embassies etc.