Supporting Empowerment of Female Readymade Garment Workers in Bangladesh through Lifelong Distance Learning Approach

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Bangladesh is a growing economy with heavy dependency on export oriented readymade garments industry. It is the world’s second larg est readymade garments exporter with 4500 registered garment factories accommodating 4 million employees. Of them, about 80% are female workers (3.2 million), ages ranging generally from 18 to 30, who are mostly illiterate representing meagre economic back ground. Majority of the Bangladeshi garment factories depend on manual labour and labour

intensive machineries. To gain competitive edge over other countries with increased productivity these factories have started automation and workforce downsizing. Thi s potentially threatens a serious toll on female workers who lack education and training, but being adults face extreme difficulty in obtaining formal education to qualify for alternative employment. Faced with such dire situation the fate of this semiskil l ed large female workforce is a growing concern in Bangladesh. It thus becomes imperative to holistically approach the potential unemployment issue of these female workers and qualify them for alternative employment opportunities through need

based educati o nal attainment. This would enable them to keep pace with rapidly changing world, support the static economic growth of Bangladesh and help achieve SDG Goal 4 by minimizing disparities along the lines of gender. This paper studies the feasibility of provis i oning lifelong learning for female garment workers alongside their current employment. Identifying the basic requirements of empowerment, the paper suggests innovative means of open and distance learning that are practically implementable. Data are used f r om both primary and secondary sources. Primary data are collected through structured questionnaire survey and focused group discussions among 182 female workers of six garment factories. For further crystallization of concept and validation of arguments o f research, question and answer session along with small group discussions are planned after paper presentation.// Paper ID 208

Empowerment,Women and Girls' Education,Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Lifelong Learning