Apparel sector contributes to 84pc of exports, creates 49 lac jobs

Experts say at a dialogue

Published : 22 Feb 2024 08:49 PM

Based on data from the Export Promotion Bureau in 2023, the apparel sector stands as a cornerstone of Bangladesh's economy, contributing to a significant 84.5% of the country's exports and employing around 49 lakh workers, with 60% of them being women.

Despite the pivotal role played by women in this industry, the effective implementation of their rights faces numerous hurdles.

The competitive dynamics of the market and the increasing impact of automation in the garment sector further compound these challenges, instilling concerns among workers about potential job losses. 

This raises critical questions about the need for a comprehensive examination of the rights and well-being of women working in Bangladesh's apparel industry amidst evolving economic and technological landscapes. 

To ensure sustainable growth in the industry, there must be a concerted effort to enhance the productivity and well-being of workers. 

This entails a focus on improving the health of women workers, promoting financial inclusion, and facilitating skills development to align with the industry's changing landscape. 

A comprehensive strategy addressing these aspects is essential to create a resilient and equitable environment for women in the apparel sector.

Experts remarked these while addressing a dialogue attended by the stakeholders of the garment sector on Thursday. 

The country's leading management consulting firm, 'Lightcastle Partners' in collaboration with 'Policy Exchange of Bangladesh' organized the  dialogue titled 'Embracing Wellbeing: Nurturing the Future of Apparel Workers in the Industry.'  

The event took place at a hotel at Gulshan in the capital, highlighting the actions and recommendations for ensuring women workers' welfare for the sustainable development of the garment industry.

Md Selim Hossen, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ministry; Dr. M Masrur Reaz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Policy Exchange Bangladesh; Zahedul Amin, Co-Founder and Director of Lightcastle Partners; Faisal Bin Seraj, Country Representative of the Asia Foundation, Ainee Islam, Director, Programme Development of The Asia Foundation; Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid, Professor of Institute of Health Economics of Dhaka University; Dr. Mehruna Islam Chowdhury, Business and Human Rights Specialist of UNDP Bangladesh; Asif Ibrahim, Vice Chairman of New Age Group; Md Fazlul Hoque, Managing Director of Plummy Fashion; Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of Business Initiative Leading Development  (BUILD); and others spoke at the event.                   

The speakers acknowledged that some factory owners and stakeholders have commendably undertaken initiatives for the welfare of women workers at their own expense. 

However, they pointed out that a significant portion of owners has not been proactive in taking initiatives to enhance the well-being of the workers.

This picture emerged from the report title 'Threads of Progress: A Comprehensive Landscape Study of the Apparel Industry and the Future of Women Workers’ which was published by LightCastle Partners in collaboration with Policy Exchange.Samiha Anwar, Business Consultant of  LightCastle partners, was the key moderator.  Dr M Masrur Reaz moderated a discussion on ‘Developing a productive workforce for a competitive RMG Sector’.