Automation costing women’s jobs in Bangladesh RMG sector: Study

Centre for Policy Dialogue Programme in Bangladesh
CPD Chairman Rehman Sobhan speaking at the programme. Among those present on stage are BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman, BKMEA Second Vice President Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, and CPD Honourable Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya

Automation in the garment manufacturing factories based in Bangladesh is coming at the cost of women workers’ jobs, says Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a local independent think-tank.

The association released a study titled ‘Ongoing Upgradation in RMG Enterprises: Results from Survey’ at a hotel in Gulshan, Dhaka, on March 3, 2018. Markedly, the release has come days ahead of International Women’s Day.

At the event, it was also highlighted that the rate of employment of women in the garment industry has decreased over time. After (the initiation of) automation, the ratio of women at factories came down to 60.8 per cent in 2016, from what was 64 per cent a year ago.

CPD’s Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem explained that factory owners are not convinced that a woman can handle the modern machinery.

For some time now, Bangladesh’s garment sector, especially the knitwear industry, has been adopting modern machinery in a bid to bring product standardisation and reduce cost. A previous report in this regard, published in December last year, said that automation is threatening jobs at factories.

The report published by CPD said that the garment industry of Bangladesh underwent massive overhauling which has resulted in overall social progress but limited economic progress. It said, the introduction of technology has increased, and consequentially the rate of women employment decreased.

Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of CPD, said that while many foreign apparel buyers talk about a ‘social and safe’ work environment, their participation in the initiatives is low. He advised them to take it up on the international platforms in partnership with other stakeholders.

The press conference of CPD was conducted by CPD Honorable Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya. BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman, former Labor Secretary Mikhail Shipar, economist D. Enamul Haque, BKMEA second Vice-President Fazle Shamim Ehsan, labour leaders Shamsun Nahar Bhuiyan, and Babul Akter were present at the programme.