DHAKA, March 11 (Xinhua) — To mark 2019 International Women’s Day, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have launched an innovative training scheme to get more women in supervisory roles in Bangladesh’s garment sector.
The “Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR)” initiative was launched at a high-level International Women’s Day reception Monday, ILO said in a press release in Dhaka.
GEAR is a special initiative of Better Work Bangladesh, a program jointly implemented by IFC and ILO in 2016. The program has made significant strides in advancing women’s economic potential and improving access to better jobs and opportunities for women.
“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. Impact assessment shows that lines led by GEAR-trained females experienced an average increase of 5 percent in efficiency. The GEAR-promoted female supervisors also saw on average a 39 percent increase in salary.
After a successful pilot, Better Work is scaling up GEAR to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories to promote career-progression opportunities for women in the readymade garment (RMG) sector.
Despite 80 percent of line-operators in the sewing sections of Bangladesh’s garment sector being women, 19 out of 20 line-supervisors are male.
This means 90 percent of the managerial talent in factories comes from just 20 percent of the workforce.
“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,” Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh, said at the launch event.