Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Mr. Magnus Schmid, Program Coordinator, PSES, GIZ, gave opening remarks at the seminar.

Dr. Rahman highlighted the importance and the complexity of such a research project, the first on the garment industry to be so data rich and detailed in the design. Dr.Rahman also commented the crucial role of IGC in funding, supporting and connecting policy oriented economic research, such as this project, to influential policy makers.

Professor Chris Woodruff, and Professor Rocco Macchiavello, Warwick University and also the IGC Researchers, presented the keynote papers on Productivity issues in Garment factories in Bangladesh, and Female operator training project.

Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) spoke on the role of garments in the development process and Ms. Rupali Biswas, Chief Coordinator, Lean and garmenting Consultant and Trainer, BKMEA shared her thoughts titled ‘A practitioner’s perspective on Gender and RMG’.

The event focused on productivity issues and gender biases inside the garment industry. While the RMG sector was the first industry to provide large scale employment opportunities to women, few of the jobs have been at the management level. As today, around 85 percent of machine operators in the sector are female, while managers are overwhelmingly male. Providing female line operators with vocational training could be a solution to help women to advance into management and at the same time to enhance the skill endowment in the factories.

According to the study, vocational training have positive effects on gender empowerment as more than half of the female trainees were promoted after receiving the training. However, findings also highlighted prevalent skepticism on the role of female supervisors. Promotion rates for the female trainees proved to be significantly lower than for male trainees and hints of resistance to the promotion of female operators were found among production workers.

Different tests and simulations also highlighted how the training improved the managerial practices suggesting that female trainees are as or more effective than male supervisors and that there are no differences between male and female trainees with regards to line-level efficiency, absenteeism or quality defects.

The ongoing second phase of the study will be able to say more about the expected positive effects on the factory productivity and evaluate the career progress of the trainee female supervisors in the garment factories.

The event was attended by, among others representatives from Garments industry, FBCCI, BGMEA, BKMEA, garments owners association, garments trade unions, government employees, civil society members, journalists and others.