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Bangladesh experts discuss women losing jobs to automation in RMG sector

by Apparel Resources News-Desk

09-July-2018  |  3 mins read

Speakers at the roundtable discussion on the condition of women at Bangladesh's RMG sector
Speakers at the roundtable discussion on the condition of women at Bangladesh’s RMG sector

Bangladesh retail and apparel experts recently had a meeting to discuss the growing trend of women losing jobs to automation at the country’s garment factories. The panel opined that businesses need to invest in their training and capacity building to make the country’s apparel sector more compliant.

“As the apparel factories are becoming more and more automated every day, the female workers, who are less capable in adapting to the changing workplace, are falling victim to it”, said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), an independent think tank.

He was speaking at a roundtable, organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation and aBangladesh leading daily, in Dhaka recently.The meeting that highlighted ‘The Situation of Women Workers at Bangladesh’s RMG’, was attended by State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu, union leaders, experts, businessmen and researchers.

Researcher Moazzem highlighted that harassment at factories is a reality for women in Bangladesh and that the businesses invest in developing the female workforce with training and capacity building programmes. According to him, female workers face higher degree of harassment at sub-contracting factories compared to compliant factories.

The current workforce at Bangladesh’s apparel industry is around 3.6 million, around 75 per cent of which are females. There has been reports previously that automation is cutting jobs for the workers, especially for the females.

Nazma Akter, president, Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, said, “Female workers cannot work after 40-45 years of age as they cannot run the machines due to malnutrition. We should create an environment that will entitle them to continue work up to 60 as they are a real asset for the apparel industry.”

Shaheen Anam, executive director, Manusher Jonno Foundation, said a safe, a decent and women-friendly working environment was needed in the garment sector. She highlighted that automation is coming as a big threat to women employment and said the workers needed to be trained on gender-sensitivity.

Among others who spoke at the programme were Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), Asgar Sabri, director at Action Aid, Ruchira Tabassum, senior specialist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b) and Silvia Rovelli, project manager of Terre Des Hommes.