• Monday, Feb 06, 2023
  • Last Update : 08:54 am

ILO: Women in garment sector hit hard by Covid-19

  • Published at 02:15 pm November 20th, 2020
RMG factory
File Photo: A group of women working at a garment factory in Bangladesh Claudio Montesano Casillas

Major buying countries’ imports from garment-exporting countries in Asia had dropped by up to 70% in the first half of 2020, according to a recent research

The impact of Covid-19 on women in the garment industry has worsened due to underlying challenges, including discrimination and harassment, underrepresentation of women’s voice, wage gaps as well as unevenly shared unpaid care and family obligations, says a new brief from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The brief titled “Gendered impacts of Covid-19 on the garment sector” aims to raise awareness of the gendered reality of Covid-19 and to outline how the pandemic impacts women and men workers in the garment sector, according to an ILO webpost.

“Women account for approximately 80% of the garment sector workforce, so they are heavily affected to start with by many of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, women also experience additional impacts due to the existing challenges they face in the workplace as well as expectations regarding women’s obligations at home,” said Joni Simpson, senior gender specialist for ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Recent ILO research highlighted how major buying countries’ imports from garment-exporting countries in Asia had dropped by up to 70% in the first half of 2020 due to Covid-19. This has led to a sharp increase in worker layoffs and dismissals while factories that have reopened are often operating at reduced workforce capacity.

The Asia-Pacific region employed an estimated 65 million RMG workers in 2019, accounting for 75% of all garment workers worldwide.

In a study conducted on garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Lesotho and Viet Nam, ILO’s Better Work project found that waged employment helped advance women’s empowerment in societies considered to be highly gendered.

Women’s employment in Better Work factories has enabled them to improve their leverage and influence in household spending and decision-making, and has increased men’s participation in unpaid care work.

“Women constitute 60% of the workforce in the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry. A drop in women’s employment will not only impede their economic and social empowerment, but will also give rise to shortage of experienced, loyal and skilled workers in the industry,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh.

The brief highlights short, medium and long-term impacts of the crisis on women workers. It also includes a series of recommendations to help build a more just and resilient industry and greater gender equality.

The brief recommended to put greater focus on retrenchment and closure practices as well as addressing women’s disproportionate unpaid care obligations so they can return to work as factories resume operations. 

Moreover, efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic should account for the unique ways that women and men may encounter the effects of the coronavirus at work, at home and in their communities. The importance of strengthening efforts to combat violence and harassment at workplace is highlighted, in view of emerging data showing that Covid-19 has increased the risks of gender-based violence.

“It is crucial that governments, businesses and other stakeholders understand the multi-dimensional impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on both women and men workers, and design policies that enable a smart, sustainable and gender-responsive recovery. Otherwise, the Covid-19 crisis threatens to exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and will hamper the social and economic sustainability of the garment sector,” said Jessica Wan, Better Work gender specialist.

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail