Abstract (Executive Summary)
No one can imagine the economic development of Bangladesh without considering the contribution of the garment sector. This sector has emerged as the single largest export sector in Bangladesh with 78.14 percent share in total national export in FY 2010-11 (iART 2011). It comprises of 16 percent GDP that has created scope for the employment opportunity of 10.72 percent labor force of which 6.83 percent are directly involved (Ahmed, 2013). Apparel sector is known as only one among the manufacturing sectors in Bangladesh where women workers account for about 70% of its total employment. It is well recognized that this sector is playing a vital role in empowering women economically and socially.
Despite the fact that this industry is creating opportunity for women and semi-skilled or unskilled manpower, workers are not getting proper working environment in compliance to international standard. General perception is that women having no alternative job opportunities usually join garment industry. Thus, due to having financial crisis, low price of labour, limited capacity to bargain with male managers and their low confidence, women are being exploited severely. There is a common allegation from the workers’ perspective that a good number of garment factories do not provide good working environment that ensure physical and human/social security. It is commonly alleged that workers spend around 12 hours a day in the work place of the garment industries. Apart from regular work, they have to spend almost 24 hours in a week as overtime at night. If we analyze this sector from the gender perspective it is revealed that female garment workers rarely find a healthy and supportive environment in the workplace (Hossain2012; Jahan, 2011, Paul-Majumder, 2008).
Garments workers are not well paid by which they can support their relatives staying in their home town after maintaining their daily needs. As an obvious consequence, most of the garment workers live in slums in an unhealthy situation. This is not the end of the story, since 1990 to 2013 (April) Bangladesh has experienced more than 10 deadly occurrences that caused untimely death of thousands of workers where most of the affected were women. Last two incidences are: Tazreen Fashions tragedy, the worst industrial fire in the history of Bangladesh, that killed at least 111 people on 24 November (The Guardian, 10 January, 2013) and Rana Plaza collapse tragedy that took away more than 525 lives of garment workers (till 3rd May 2013) (The Time Magazine, 2 May, 2013, Prothom Alo, 4th May, 2013). Experts and insiders of this sector have identified obsolete policies and laws, and non-compliance with laws as main causes of this kind of occurrences. In this backdrop an attempt to address the policy and its compliance in the garment sector of Bangladesh deserves special attention.
Objectives of the Project
The project will work to bring the changes in garment sector related policies and for ensuring it compliance.
SO-1: To build an advocacy coalition in the form of network to push the policy issues as policy agenda
SO-2: This advocacy network will take advocacy programs to exert pressure on the Government, business associations and garment owners so that they take initiatives to ensure safety and security of the garment workers.
SO-3: To undertake necessary capacity development initiatives for the leaders of train union of garments so that they can raise their voice for safeguarding rights and securities of the garment workers.
Project Implementation Approach
The project will adopt a three folds approach that includes networking, advocacy and capacity development. A network will be formed and activated incorporating members from NGOs, CSOs and think tanks for providing policy recommendations and conducting advocacy activities. For changing the attitude and capacities of policy makers and workers of garments sectors training and awareness building activities will be undertaken.
Activities of the Project
Activity 1.1: A advocacy network will be formed incorporating members from government, Institute of Apparel Research and Technology, Center for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA), Labor organizations (including labor wings of political parties), media houses and NGOs / CSOs. It is expected that this network will review the existing situations, including existing policies and will provide policy recommendations.
Activity 1.2: Orientation programs will be organized for network members; review session will be conducted and output will be disseminated.
Activity 2.1: This network will organize advocacy meetings with policy makers, business association leaders, and garment owners.
Activity 2.2: Writing -down of the perception and commitment of the actors and taking necessary initiative for publishing these evidences to bring changes in the policy and practice.
Activity 2.3: Follow-up advocacy activities and reporting to the stakeholders including media will be initiated.
Activity 3.1: Arrangement of training program on issues relating to compliance of rules and regulations for factory management
Activity 3.2: Material support will be provided for the physically challenged garment workers to increase their mobility and income (such as wheel chair and other material supports).
- A policy network will be formed with participation of multilevel vibrant actors
- It will bring changes in policies and regulations.
- Attitude of owners and policy makers will be changed towards compliance.
- & 2.3. Worker’s satisfaction will be increased regarding the compliance of security issues.
- Knowledge of workers and all associated members on different compliance issues will be increased.
- Quality of lives of affected employees will be increased.
Ahmed Redwan (2013). An Analysis of the Change and Volatility in the Apparel Industry of Bangladesh after MFA Era, Journal of Textile, Apparel, Technology and Management, Vol. 8(1): 1-11.
Hossain Naomi (2012) Women’s Empowerment Revisited: From Individual to Collective Power among the Export Sector Workers of Bangladesh, IDS, Retrieved on May 01, 2013
iART(2011) Apparel Export Statistics of Bangladesh, Dhaka : Institute of Apparel Research and Technology
Jahan Mamtaz (2011) Women Workers in Bangladesh Garments Industry: A Study of the Work Environment, International Journal of Social Science Tomorrow,Vol. 1(3).
Paul-Majumder, P. (2008) Gender Differentiated Impact of Employment in the Manufacturing Sector of Bangladesh on the Mental Health of worker: A Case study of Employment in the Garment Industry, Empowerment, Vol. 15: 1-22.
Prothom Alo (2013) A Widely circulated English Daily, Dhaka, May 04, 2013.
Bangladesh garment industry scrambles to save reputation after fires (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jan/10/bangladesh-garment-industry-reputation-fires)
Bangladesh building’s owner arrested attempting to flee, 2 May, 2013 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/bangladesh-building-s-owner-arrested-attempting-to-flee-1.1380183)
Tags: A number of advocacy groups will be formed with the: Bangladesh | Government-NGO Relations | Non-Governmental | Policy Advocacy Groups | Public Health | Activists | Gender InEquality | Women’s Empowerment | Education | Children’s | Diversity | Organizations | Press and Media.