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Project Case Study

Protecting female workers in Bangladesh’s garment sector

Providing social protection for retrenched garment workers

The ready-made garment sector is Bangladesh’s main export industry and the country’s second largest employer. By directly employing 2.2 million people, the majority of whom are female, the industry plays a pivotal role in empowering women by enabling them to contribute to their family’s income, increasing their mobility and granting them greater freedoms.

However, in 2005, the employment prospects of women in Bangladesh’s garment sector were threatened by a change in trade agreements and the expiration of the multi-fibre agreement.

Between 2005 and 2007 we provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.

Project info

Protecting female workers in Bangladesh's garment sector


  • 2005 - 2007


In collaboration with

  • Asian Development Bank

We developed and tested a range of approaches for providing opportunities and protection of workers who had been retrenched or were threatened by retrenchment as a result of the phasing out of quotas.

The Adam Smith International team provided training to women that had been retrenched and developed centres to help these women to find new jobs. Over 2,000 female garment workers directly benefitted from our support in this challenging economic adjustment process.

"Social protection of the garment workers [was] practically absent, so the technical assistance made a substantial contribution to develop and test social protection arrangements in a changing industry environment.”
Axel Weber, Social Sector Specialist (Social Protection), SANS

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