It is said that female workers are more
sincere than males at the workplace and the country’s readymade garment (RMG)
sector is its glittering example. The women of Bangladesh are continuing
keeping rolling the wheels of its RMG factories.
The mothers and sisters keep operative the country’s economy by working
shoulder to shoulder with the male workers during this present global
Concerned said the country’s RMG industry started its journey nearly four
decades back on the basis of female workers.
The industry spread rapidly in Bangladesh due to availability of cheap
labour. Once, these women workers used to become victims of wage
discrimination. They also used to become victims of harassment and torture at
the workplaces frequently.
The female workers have to give life most in any accident as the working
atmosphere of many factories was not improved. However, this situation has
changed to some extent than the past.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association
(BGMEA), the country earned US Dollar 11 crore in the 1984-85 fiscal year
(FY), but the income surged to $27.94 in the last FY.
The craftsmen behind this success in the sector are workers. According to
a survey conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2013, the
participation of males and females in the RMG sector at that time was 43.14
percent and 56 percent respectively.
At that time, nearly 30 lakh people were involved in the sector. The
number now climbed to about 40 lakh. The rate of participation of males and
females is now almost equal. However, once the rate of females’ participation
was nearly 80 percent.
Everybody more or less acknowledges the contributions of women workers
most to this progress of the RMG sector in the last 37 years. The BGMEA
leaders speak about employment and empowerment of the huge number of females.
Though, the issue of absence of proper environment of work for the women
at the factories was raised at different times. Even big disasters like
Tazrin Fashion and Rana Plaza happened. But due to interference of the
present government after the incidents, the RMG sector turned around.
Besides, two alliances–Accord and Alliances– formed with foreign buyers
and brands have started inspecting the factories to improve their working
The government and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) too are
working to this end.
BGMEA’s former president Siddiqur Rahman said the Accord and Alliance
worked with 2,200 garment factories after the Rana Plaza collapse.
“We can now say that 2,200 factories are in compliances. But the number has
presently increased further. And there was a need to reform 500-600 factories
out of 1500 of the National Action Plan. The rest were reformed and rebuilt,”
President of Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employees League Sirajul
Islam Roni said after the Rana Plaza tragedy, the infrastructural development
of Bangladesh’s RMG factories has been developed significantly.
“It can be said that most of the garment factories are now in compliance,
meaning that the working environment inside the factories and other security
has been improved,” he said.
Roni, however, regretted that the living standard of the workers is not
improved mentionably because their wages were not enhanced in comparison to
raising living costs.
The female garment workers are still facing some problems. Wages
discrimination and non implementation of six-month maternity leave among
Talking about the issue, BGMEA Vice-President Arshad Jamal said all
factory owners now ensured health safety of the workers. “A policy has been
formulated too in Bangladesh … the BGMEA is working with coordination to
build a women-friendly industry,” he said.
On the issue of wages discrimination of the women workers, Jamal said the
situation has been changed to a greater extent than the past. “If any problem
exists, it will be solved gradually,” he assured.
Official Research Cell of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Khandaker Golam
Moazzem said the female workers of the garment industry are making huge
contributions to the country’s economy and it’s a big recognition.
“But, against it (contributions), social evaluation and other facilities
of the women are yet to be ensured. Though, some minimum demands were
fulfilled, the qualitative changes didn’t take place to that extent… more
work will have to be done to this end,” the CPD official opined.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)