EDITORIAL: Empowering female RMG workers

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Foster a working environment that is women-friendly

Despite the progress we have made in terms of workplace safety
post-Rana Plaza, there is much more to be done to provide a decent,
women-friendly working environment for female RMG workers.

The problems are manifold. Sexual harassment and verbal abuse at the
workplace and the threat of automation are some of the major issues yet
to be addressed. A roundtable discussion on the situation of women
workers in Bangladesh jointly organised by this paper and Manusher Jonno
Foundation brought forth a number of other pressing problems which
pertain particularly to female RMG workers and which need immediate
attention.

When it comes to harassment at the workplace, both the government and
factory owners ought to come together and take a zero-tolerance
approach to end this practice once and for all. All factories should
have a transparent mechanism whereby female workers who experience
harassment of any kind can lodge complaints without the fear of
retaliation. Gender-sensitive training for all employees of a factory is
a must. Automation has emerged as a big threat and thus factory owners
should provide skills training to women workers so that they are able to
operate modern machinery.

Another problematic finding is that 44 percent of working women are
raising their children without daycare centres at the workplace. If
factory owners are seriously committed to the welfare of our female
workers, they must do their part and provide daycare centres for all
working mothers, in addition to adequate healthcare benefits for all
workers.

Furthermore, we still have factories which do not give workers proper
appointment letters and IDs at the time of joining. This practice is
particularly high among factories not affiliated with BGMEA and BKMEA.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment must look
into these anomalies and take corrective action.

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