Women, who represent about 50% of population in Bangladesh have made important gains in the formal labor market in the past twenty years: According to the ILO, in the economic sphere, women have played a vital role, as evidenced by the importance of the ready-made garment (RMG) sector.

While the share of men and women employed in manufacturing is roughly the same, the vast majority of RMG sector workers are women – 80-85 per cent. And, Bangladesh’s economic success in the last two decades is in large part due to the RMG exports to Europe and North America. Despite the fact that women do not generally have ownership over land and tools necessary for agriculture, their labor has been a vital part of the success Bangladesh has had in agricultural productivity – the country stands out compared with other countries in Asia in terms of enhancing agricultural productivity.

However, women’s participation in labor force is still low at 35.98%. At aggregate level, women labor force in informal sector was 92.3% and in formal sector it was 7.7%, (compared to men at 85.5% and 14.5% respectively), observing almost the same pattern in urban and rural areas. In 2010, 64.84% women were found to be engaged in agriculture sector, followed by 35.2% in non-agriculture, 21.9% in service sector, 11.8% in manufacturing sectors and rest were engaged in other industries.

Objectives, results and activities

  • IELD Bangladesh will facilitate the locally produced, targeted, public and private investments through private sector development, entrepreneurship, and the integration of women into the labor market;
  • Structured Project Finance in the form of collateral guarantees, for small and medium enterprise (SME) infrastructure projects in order to unblock local sources of private capital. Financing can be made available for SMEs ranging in size from US $1 million to up to US $20 million.

Stories from the Field

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Samina Anwar
Programme Manager, IELD