Female apparel workers commended the efforts taken by the country’s apparel industry to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce which makes the biggest contributions to Sri Lanka’s economy.
The female representatives of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters (SLCGE), member of Joint Apparel Association Forum, made these remarks during a press conference held in Colombo on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The press conference focused on the welfare and betterment of the living standards of women engaged in various occupations in the apparel industry in Sri Lanka and the representatives emphasized the importance of taking steps not to limit the recognition of the role of women in the garment industry, the biggest strength of the national economy of the country, to Women’s Day.
Women make up about 85% of the workforce in the apparel industry in Sri Lanka, especially in the rural areas and is one of the key employment generating sectors to strengthen the economy of women. A female apparel worker said that the garment industry in Sri Lanka has become a leading partner in the flow of women’s employment, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for women and giving them the opportunity to play a leading role in the country’s economy.
It was also noted that the apparel industry itself is significantly contributing to the uplifting of the living standards of women involved in it while working towards enhancing their lifestyle.
Many women delegates who attended the press conference were of the view that women in the garment industry have a high standard of living and play a dignified role in strengthening their economy and improving the lives of their family members.
“The media, teledramas etc. always showcase the female workers in the apparel industry as an underprivileged and less fortunate group of people. This is not entirely true,” a representative said.
“The women in the garment industry have the opportunity to successfully strengthen their future by receiving promotions and pay rises based on the quality of their work, and the opportunities and privileges available to them are immeasurable,” an apparel worker said.
In the garment industry, mainly dominated by females, employers pay special attention to their problems and make a significant contribution to making their economy self-sufficient by providing incentives, attendance allowances and other benefits in addition to the monthly salary, free uniforms, transportation, etc.
A spokeswoman for the apparel industry said that the entertainment, annual outings and free meals were a big boost.
The speakers also commended the management of the garment industry for taking necessary steps to address the day-to-day economic problems of their employees and taking steps to pay the salaries and other incentives on time, even during the COVID-19 pandemic which has greatly affected the industries around the world. The women delegates who participated in the event highly commended the employers for focusing more on the health of their employees, adhering to the rules and regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health during the pandemic times, and for setting the stage for the continuation of the manufacturing process and securing their jobs. The garment workers also expressed their gratitude to the management for setting up special quarantine centers for their employees who have been infected with COVID-19, and also their close associates.
While the whole world celebrated Women’s Day, the apparel workers in Sri Lanka were of the view that the value, importance and the attention given to women should not be limited to just one day.
They added that it should be the same throughout the year and that the government should intervene to secure the role of women in this patriarchal society. The importance of creating an institution in the garment industry for women to pursue higher education relevant to their occupations was also emphasized.
“On media all you see is the condemning of the professional dignity of women entering the garment industry. Through works of art and other means of media, it is necessary to give a correct picture and take steps to avoid that situation,” the women delegates who attended the press conference added.