Development professionals and Bangladeshi apparel-makers said there are still few women in mid and top positions in garment industries thanks to their unwillingness to grab the white collar jobs.
"The responsibilities appear to be huge when a woman is promoted to supervisor post from an operator, and then she cannot give enough time to the family. Therefore, many female workers do not prefer to come to the mid positions," Farhtheeba Rahat Khan, team leader of RMG inclusive business program, SNV Bangladesh told a conference in Dhaka Wednesday.
"The graduates opt for banking or other jobs instead of coming to the apparel industry," she told The Business Standard after the session at the 5th International Conference on Inclusive Business.
Jamal Uddin, inclusive business consultant at SNV Bangladesh, also shed light on poor women participation in mid-level management at garments.
Shahiullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), echoed Farhtheeba Rahat Khan on women participation.
He said, "Women will have to have the self-esteem and interest to climb to the upper positions. They lag since they lack interest."
Azim, however, said the participation picture has changed a lot as more and more women are stepping in for top posts. Moreover, there are some BGMEA measures ongoing to ensure inclusive business.
According to the Sustainable Development Goals — a global development plan intended to be achieved by the year 2030 — women must have full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
At the programme, speakers recommended effective role and all-out effort of the stakeholders to change the participation outlook.
Dr AK Abdul Momen inaugurated the conference and joined as the chief guest.
He said, "Readymade garment and leather products are our pride. We are looking for opportunities where we could contribute meaningfully to the global productivity and finance networks together with the Netherlands."
The foreign minister said the Netherlands was the seventh largest investor in Bangladesh in 2019, and bilateral trade between the countries has increased.
The conference was jointly organised by Dutch-Bangla Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DBCCI) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisations.
Md Anwar Shawkat Afser, president of DBCCI, Md Sirazul Islam, executive chairman at the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), Ismene Stalpers, country director of SNV Bangladesh addressed the event among others.