Three-quarters of Bangladeshi firms don’t offer childcare: IFC study

DHAKA International Finance Corporation (IFC), a

member of the World Bank Group, today said 77 percent of companies surveyed

in Bangladesh do not yet offer childcare options to their employees �

potentially preventing women from participating equally in the labor force in

the country.

According to ILO estimates, unemployment rate of women in Bangladesh is

almost double that of men.

IFC's survey of 306 private sector companies in Bangladesh, including

those from nonprofits, manufacturing, financial services, and information

technology sectors, found that only 23 percent offer childcare options to

their employees, 16 percent plan to, while 61 percent have no plans yet, said

an IFC press release.

Lack of access to good quality, affordable childcare is a major obstacle

to women's participation in the labor force across the world because women

usually bear a disproportionate share of childcare responsibilities.

Studies, including from IFC, suggest that employer-supported childcare can

be a win-win for all � it improves physical and cognitive outcomes for

children, enhances employment opportunities for women, and boosts

productivity and profits for businesses � supporting socio-economic growth.

In Bangladesh, companies with more than 40 female employees are legally

required to offer childcare options. IFC conducted the survey to better

understand the opportunities and challenges that companies face in the

country, aiming to raise awareness that the benefits of employer-supported

childcare outweigh the cost of implementing it.

Since 2017, IFC has produced several reports on childcare, including from

India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, highlighting the innovative approaches that

companies have taken to provide childcare.

Employers that provide childcare attract and retain quality employees,

most pointedly women employees. Employer-sponsored childcare and family-

friendly workplace policies can benefit families, businesses, and the

economy, said Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and

Nepal.

The IFC's survey results point towards a strong business case for

employer-supported childcare and incorporate recommendations for the private,

public, and development sectors to boost employer-supported childcare in the

country.

The survey, conducted between May and July, was funded by the Canadian

government and developed after consultations with over 75 employees and 40

stakeholders, including government representatives and care providers.

The research was conducted in collaboration with LightCastle Partners;

international organizations ILO/IFC Better Work Bangladesh, UNICEF

Bangladesh, UN Global Compact Bangladesh, and the World Bank; industry

associations Bangladesh Association of Call Center & Outsourcing, Bangladesh

Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Leasing and

Finance Companies Association, and Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry,

including Business Initiative Leading Development; care providers BRAC

Institute of Education Development and Phulki; Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park

Authority; the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Bangladesh Shishu

Academy.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)