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    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 is expanding this program to 3 partner factories to provide career advancement support to women. We will continue to help Bangladeshi women achieve their dreams.
    *2012 Survey of Manufacturing Industries (SMI) by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

    Women Shouldn’t be Defeated by COVID-19
    • Basic Program: 15 hours, 300 men and women (Selected from 7,000 workers)
      Female workers received soft-skills training in order to gain the 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.
    Indicator Answers Trained Not trained
    Improved knowledge on rights and entitlements in the workplace. Very good 55% 22%
    Gained sufficient confidence to take on a supervisor role. Good or better 100% 40%
    Aspiration to become a supervisor increased. Yes 79% 33%
    Feel able to approach managers to discuss promotion. Yes 50% 10%
    Increased confidence in recognising gender discrimination in the workplace and at home. Yes 86% 39%
    More comfortable giving feedback and raising issues with management. Yes 85% -
    Improved negotiation skills. Strongly Agree 76% -
    Increased participation in the family decision making and increased confidence in making domestic decisions. Yes 80% -
    • Manager Training Program: Four sessions, 50 male supervisors, 42 male middle-managers and 8 female middle managers
      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

    Junior operator

    “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

    Junior operator

    “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.