Believe in Your Abilities. Look to the Future
Approximately 60% of the employees working at sewing factories in Bangladesh are women*. However, due to their cultural and social background and working environment, you see fewer and fewer women the higher up the management ladder you go, and that has long been an issue for us. The Fast Retailing Group has formed a partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to set up a training program for female employees and male managers. In 2020, we conducted a pilot program which proved far more successful than we had initially anticipated. In 2021, Fast Retailing Group expanded this program to 3 partner factories to provide career advancement support to women. We have continued to help Bangladeshi women achieve their dreams.
* the 2012 Survey of Manufacturing Industries (SMI) by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)
○Basic Program: 15 hours, 300 men and women (Selected from 7,000 workers)
Female workers received soft-skills training and gained confidence to express their needs, claim their rights and negotiate with their managers.
○Advanced Program: 80 hours, 100 female management candidates
Training to improve leadership and technical skills.
Training to promote an understanding of the enabling environment needed to support for women to progress in their careers.
Sessions to promote awareness of the gender biases that hinder female activities.
Training to promote awareness of gender equality.
Interviews with Three Female Participants.
What’s Your Dream?
Sultana Afrin, 32
“I have decided that I want to work in a more challenging position,” says Sultana Afrin, who works at a garment factory based in the Dhaka capital. Sultana was part of a group of 50 women who participated in training sessions that focused on leadership, negotiation, and communication skills. “Earlier I used to think that work that involved going out was “men’s work.” I don’t feel like that anymore,” says Sultana who feels that, armed with her new communication skills, she is now able to clearly convey her own ideas not only at work, but also at home.
“I don’t want to dream big and then not reach my goal. I believe in small steps, baby steps.” Sultana wants to become a floor manager and is currently happily working towards that goal.
Hashi Begum, 28
“I want my daughter to grow up to be a doctor. That is my dream,” says Hashi Begum, who used to think that a woman’s place was in the home. However, the construction of a sewing factory near her home completely changed her values.
“Earlier I used to feel scared to express myself, to do anything new. Now I feel that men and women can both do anything and everything.”
Hashi says she is proud that both she and her husband work and bring up their kids together and was adamant that, “if all female employees can enjoy the training I have received, then the factory atmosphere and working environment would improve, and women would be able to stand up for their rights and secure a better future.”
Pryanka Rani Saha, 20
Quality control officer
“I learned about stress management and got several tips on how to be able to complete your work properly, whatever the circumstances,” said Pryanka Rani Saha, who joined a garment factory in Mymensingh Division four years ago. There, she met a man, fell in love, and decided to get married. The couple now live busy lives in which they efficiently share the housework and respect each other’s goals. This is an extremely progressive approach in traditional Bangladesh. Pryanka dreams that Bangladesh will one day become a model country for the world. “I want Bangladesh to be a safe and free country where it is OK for women to walk alone at night,” says Pryanka, who is keen to communicate openly with her partner and parents. Women who cherish new values are certainly trying to change the way things have been in this country.
What is UN Women?
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
Diversity and Worker Empowerment Initiatives
Signed Global Partnership with UN Women to empower female workers in apparel industry.
Program development to provide specialized training for female workers in partner factories
Appointed first female Chief Executive Officer(CEO) for UNIQLO Japan
Moved the Diversity and Inclusion Office from Human Resources Department to the direct management of the president.
The percentage of women in management positions across the Fast Retailing Group reached 36%, exceeding 30% target for fiscal 2020.
Opened an in-house childcare center for employees at Tokyo and Ariake head offices in Japan.
Introduced a flextime work system and babysitter subsidy program for eligible Fast Retailing Group head office employees in Japan.
Introduced a new work-from-home arrangement for eligible Fast Retailing Group head office employees in Japan.
Launched the "Factory Worker Empowerment Project" to provide educational support for female garment workers in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Established Diversity and Inclusion Office in the Human Resources Department.
Established a scholarship of USD 1 million over five years for students at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.
- Fast Retailing
- Initiatives to support female workers at partner factories
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