With a view to getting more women in supervisory roles in Bangladesh's garment sector, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched an innovative training scheme.The scheme titled 'The Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) Initiative' was launched at a reception arranged marking the International Women's Day at the residence of Canadian High Commissioner here recently, said a press release.
The GEAR is a special initiative of Better Work Bangladesh - jointly implemented by IFC and the ILO, said the release. Rolled out in 2016, the program has made significant strides in advancing women's economic potential and improving access to better jobs and opportunities for women folks. This year's International Women's Day theme is 'Think Equal, Build Smart and Innovate for Change'.
GEAR powerfully reflects this theme by openly addressing workplace gender imbalance via its innovative, empowering and inclusive program, it said. "I will slowly but surely like to rise 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.
The GEAR has already trained 144 female workers. Of them, 58 are now in supervisory roles. Impact assessment showed that lines led by GEAR-trained females experienced an average increase of five percent in efficiency. The GEAR-promoted female supervisors also saw - on average - a 39 percent increase in salary.
After a successful pilot, Better Work is scaling up GEAR to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories to promote career-progression opportunities for women in the RMG sector. Diplomats and representatives from UN agencies, development partners, donors, government bodies, civil society, the private sector, employers' organizations and unions attended the event, the release added.
"Canada is advancing gender equality worldwide through Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy. It is not just about hiring or buying from women. It's about recognizing talent, capabilities, and value that is too often disregarded due to gender bias," Canadian High Commissioner Benoit Prfontaine said while addressing the event.
Despite 80 percent of line-operators in the sewing sections of the garment sector being women, 19 out of 20 line-supervisors are male. This means 90 percent of the managerial talent in factories comes from just 20 percent of the workforce.
Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director OF ILO IN Bangladesh, said: "Gender equality and gender empowerment was one of the core founding principles of the ILO in 1919. 100 years on and this is still central to our work. But much more needs to be done in advancing gender diversity - not just in the RMG sector but also in every sector."
Nuzhat Anwar, acting country manager, IFC, said, "Through the GEAR program, 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."
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