International Labour Organisation and the International Finance Corporation have jointly launched a training scheme to adopt more women in supervisory roles in the country’s garment sector as a pilot programme demonstrated that female supervisors boost factory efficiency by five per cent.
The programme titled ‘Gender Equality and Returns’ was launched at an International Women’s Day reception, hosted by the high commission of Canada on Monday. Women’s day was observed on March 8.
Diplomats and representatives from United Nation agencies, development partners, donor agencies, government bodies, civil society, the private sector, employers’ organisations and unions attended the event.
GEAR is a special initiative of Better Work Bangladesh – jointly implemented by IFC and the ILO that rolled out in 2016 and the programme has made significant strides in advancing women’s economic potential and improving access to better jobs and opportunities for women, said a press release issued by ILO.
‘This year’s International Women’s Day theme was “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,’ the release said.
According to the ILO release, the GEAR has so far trained 144 female workers; 58 of whom are now in supervisory roles and an impact assessment shows that lines led by GEAR-trained females experienced an average increase of 5 per cent in efficiency.
After the successful pilot programme, the ILO is going to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories to promote career-progression opportunities for women in the RMG sector under GEAR of Better Work.
The GEAR-promoted female supervisors also saw on average a 39 per cent increase in salary, it said.
‘I would slowly but surely like to be promoted 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.
Despite 80 per cent of line-operators in the sewing sections of the garment sector are women, 19 out of 20 line-supervisors are male, ILO said.
This means 90 per cent of the managerial talent in factories comes from just 20 per cent of the workforce, it observed.
Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh, said gender equality and gender empowerment was one of the core founding principles of the ILO in 1919.
‘Through the GEAR programme, we hope to actively work on increasing career-progression opportunities and promotion of women and addressing the gender imbalances in leadership roles in the garment sector,’ Nuzhat Anwar, acting country manager of IFC, said.
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