Pandemic-hit women and adolescent girls in the informal sector should be imparted skills training to help their income recover to normal, said experts at a discussion on Thursday.
Nearly 91.8% of the total women labour force are engaged in the informal economy and they suffered the worst of all, they also said.
Women's participation in the labour market through effective skills training should be a high priority to assist them in coming out of the situation, they also said while addressing the event organised by Brac's Skills Development Programme on Thursday at the Brac Centre in the capital's Mohakhali.
NGO Affairs Bureau director-general KM Tarikul Islam said, "All the organisations are working to fulfil the aim to have 10 million people employed in the Mujib Borsho [Birth Centenary of Mujib]."
The government has created a number of industries, which will provide employment to women as well. Non-government organisations should also come forward to assist the government, he also said.
Abul Kalam Azad, former chief coordinator for SDG affairs at the Prime Minister's Office, "In Bangladesh, over 18 million women are employed in the labour market. We must also think what crisis these women may face in their livelihoods in case the Omicron variant of coronavirus spreads in Bangladesh. We have to be adequately prepared to tackle the situation."
In his closing remarks, Brac's senior director KAM Morshed said, "It is a time when skills development should be a planned option. Many young people can choose skills development education instead of pursuing the path of conventional education."
Research carried out by Brac last year revealed that regular earnings dropped by 66% for women involved in the informal sector, while their opportunities for work reduced by 24%.
Unemployment rate increased to 5.30% in 2020 from 4.22% in 2019 owing to the pandemic.
Brac's Skills Training for Advancing Resources (STAR), an on-the-job apprenticeship model that equips underprivileged youths with the skills that employers need, has reached 52 districts. Impacts of STAR are 95% are employed after graduation, six-fold increase in the household income, a 62% reduction in child marriage.
Apart from these, the risk of school dropouts has seen an alarming rise owing to a prolonged shutdown of educational institutions and economic crisis, which has its inevitable adverse impact on other social situations.
Another study revealed that child marriage saw a staggering rise by 220% between July and September last year. Experts mostly put it down to staying out of schools and earnings.
To recover from the crisis, Brac puts particular emphasis on the re-engagement of women in the labour market and has accordingly designed its programmes and activities to fulfil that aim.