Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) and The Daily Star organised an event on “Contributing to Inclusive Economic Growth in the Textile Sector for a Sustainable Development” on 6 December 2016 in Dhaka, to mark the “International Day for Persons with Disabilities.” GIZ works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in partnership with the Bangladesh Government.
The objective of the event was to sensitise owners and managers in Bangladesh’s apparel industry on including skilled workers with disabilities in the mainstream work force. The discussants of the event emphasised the right to work and employment of persons with disabilities as mentioned in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). During the event, examples of good practices on employing persons with disabilities were highlighted.
Mr A B M Khorshed Alam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, emphasised in his speech that the apparel sector needs more skilled workers to cater to the services needed in the industry. He acknowledged the contribution of the sector in encouraging the training service providers to include persons with disabilities in skills trainings.
The Guest of Honour, His Excellency Dr Thomas Prinz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, highlighted the importance and advantages of an inclusive workforce by saying, “The common focus of German Development Cooperation and the Government of Bangladesh is on more self-determination and participation for persons with disabilities. This means not ‘offering services for persons with disabilities’ but enabling them to full participation in society.”
Dr Jochen Weikert, Programme Coordinator, GIZ, addressed, ”Through its Inclusive Job Centre, the PSES project matches persons with disabilities who are prepared to work in the textile industry with suitable training opportunities and encourages factory owners to employ them. At the same time, PSES targets factories that are interested in employing disabled persons and helps find individuals to fill relevant vacancies.”
Mr AHM Noman Khan, Executive Director, CDD, appraised the fact that more than 170 managers already committed themselves to address inclusion in their factories. CDD and GIZ are looking forward to continuing their support to these and other interested factories.
Special Guest, Mr Siddiqur Rahman, President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said, “’Our experience says that a person with disability can perform even better and are usually more loyal to the factories. However, there are some challenges in employing disabled persons, for example, workplace cooperation and ergonomics. We need to overcome these with the support from all. We do also need special assistance to ensure a disability friendly work place. Our factories are individually trying to address all the areas and concerns, but they need more awareness and training to develop a culture of workplace cooperation.”
In a panel discussion and knowledge sharing session representatives from GIZ, International Labour Organization (ILO), BGMEA, CDD, Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), Beximco Textiles, Posmi Sweaters Ltd and National Skills Development Council (NSDC) discussed the challenges of inclusive economic growth for the apparel industry. Equal access to dignified employment for persons with disabilities and the importance of vocational skills development were also broadly discussed.
Since 2014, GIZ made advisory services available for more than 175 enterprises in the RMG sector with the support of professionals and its partner CDD. GIZ also supported the Inclusive Job Centre (IJC) since 2015, which was established in the premises of the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Parlaysed (CRP), Mirpur. IJC provided assessment, counseling, placement in trainings and employment, rehabilitation, assistive devices and demand based support for more than 450 persons with disabilities.