Number of female workers in RMG sector falling: surveys

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:00, Dec 15,2020

 
 

A file photo shows a female worker sewing clothes at a readymade garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka. The number of female workers in the county’s readymade garment sector has been decreasing over the years, according to surveys conducted by different national and international organisations. — New Age photo

The number of female workers in the county’s readymade garment sector has been decreasing over the years, according to surveys conducted by different national and international organisations.

A recent survey conducted by Mapped in Bangladesh, a research initiative of BRAC University, showed that the ratio of female to male workers now stood at 58.30 per cent.

The MIP shared the information with the reporters on Sunday at an event held at Six Seasons Hotel in the city.

A previous survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in 2018 showed that participation of female workers in the RMG sector was 60.80 per cent. 

According to the CPD survey, the ratio of female to male workers in the RMG sector was falling mainly due to automation as female workers were proportionately less knowledgeable about operating different machines compared with male workers.

A survey conducted by the Asian Center for Development in 2015 found 65 per cent female workers in Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector against the RMG owners’ claims that more than 80 per cent female workers worked in the sector.

The International Labour Organisation’s baseline study, however, found that women represented 61.17 per cent of the sector’s workforce in 2018, a decline from 63.4 per cent in 2010.

The proportion of women workers in the surveyed RMG enterprises declined between 2010 and 2018, said the ILO study published this year.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq, however, said that although the ratio might be less than the prevailing perception, there had been no evidence of decline in the number of female workers in this industry.

In the 1980s and 1990s, estimates suggested that 90 per cent of apparel workers were women, according to the ILO report.

‘According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, 80 per cent of the four million workers (that is, 3.2 million workers) employed in its members’ factories are women. Most are from impoverished or economically disadvantaged backgrounds,’ the report read.

‘This may be noted that the previous perception of higher ratio of female in this industry was not backed by any survey or database of workers, so the narrative of declining female workforce derived out of the relatively less ratio of female in this sector is not the fact,’ the BGMEA president said.

The Asian Center for Development recently conducted a survey on the RMG sector and its initial findings showed that the ratio of female to male workers now stood at 59.2 per cent against 65 per cent in 2015.

Rubana said that while the findings of the MIB suggested the ratio of males versus females to be 41.7 per cent and 58.3 per cent, the recent survey report of the Asian Center for Development found it to be 40.8 per cent and 59.2 per cent.

‘Therefore, on an average a male-female ratio of 40 per cent and 60 per cent can be generalized across the industry as per our understanding,’ said.

More about:

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email

Advertisement

 

Advertisement

images