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Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 30, 2018
—Training female sewing operators increases supervisory roles for women, in the readymade garments’ sector in Bangladesh, boosts productivity, and reduces absenteeism, according to a University of Oxford evaluation of a training program conducted by IFC,
a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group.
In Bangladesh’s readymade garments’ sector, though women make up 80 percent of the 4 million workforce, 95 percent of the line supervisors are men. The Oxford University report,
Cutting through the Cloth Ceiling
, shows that IFC’s Work-Progression and Productivity Toolkit has
the gender imbalance
The study found that of the 144 women who attended the training, 92 were offered a promotion with an increase in salary within weeks of completing it. About 60 percent of them accepted the offer. Following
the training, the number of female supervisors in participating factories increased to about 12 percent from the earlier 5 percent. The evaluation also found an average efficiency increase of 5 percent, as well as a reduction of absenteeism in lines supervised by trained women.
Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, said, “Research shows that training increases line efficiency and benefits both the female supervisors and the factories that promote them. If scaled-up in more factories, it has the potential to overturn the industry’s blind spot when it comes to career progression opportunities for women.”
IFC’s training program consisted of five days of classroom training in technical skills and four days of training in soft skills, such as leadership and effective communications.
This was followed by eight weeks of on-the-job training, alongside an experienced supervisor. Middle and upper-level managers were also taught how to quantifiably assess skills and attitude of candidates for promotion.
Supported by Japan’s Ministry of Finance, IFC delivered the toolkit training in 28 garment factories, in collaboration with Better Work Bangladesh. Additional funding was provided by the World Bank-administered
multi-donor trust fund.
“The training taught me how to speak to people at different levels, how to behave as a professional, how to keep track of my work and calculate production and efficiency in an organized way,” said Popy Aktar, who is now a sewing line supervisor at Sparrow Apparels Ltd.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in some of the most difficult areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit
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