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Gender is not a barrier to operate a wood machine

In 2014, the Canadian Government teamed with the Government of Bangladesh and the ILO to fund the Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project and, through it, reach out to women of all ages – not just youth – and especially in remote and marginalized areas with skills training in non-traditional (male-dominated) occupations, followed by assistance with finding jobs that rely on those skills.

Feature | Dhaka | 30 May 2019
Dhaka (ILO news) - Parveen looks at a piece of wood and sees a changing world – her world at least and maybe for many other young women. And she may be small and have little education, but she believes strength comes not from physical capacity but from indomitable will. So, in a factory where few women have previously entered and with machines that even fewer women know how to handle, she makes cabinets that people buy for their homes.

Twenty-year-old Parveen lives in Noyapara village in Manikganj district near Dhaka. She was in Grade 5 when her sister married and went to live with her husband’s family. With no other girl at home, she was forced to leave school to help her mother with the housework. Her father worked as an electrician.

Two years ago, about a year after the Akhter Furniture Academy (the training centre for the Akhter Furniture Factory and no relation to Parveen) began promoting non-traditional skills training for women, Parveen signed up for the machine operator course – the options were few and designed to attract women into non-typical trades. She learned how to operate wood-cutting machines and make cabinets and doors.

“The training opportunity gave me the access to skills and helped me to enter the world of work. Otherwise, as with many girls, I might have ended up doing the household chores only. Thanks to Bangladesh and Canadian governments to implement project like B-SEP, which creates the access and employability.”- said Parveen Akhter, Wood Machine Operator, Akhter Furniture Ltd.

After completion of the course, the Akhter Furniture Factory hired Parveen with a starting monthly salary of BDT4,500 that quickly increased to BDT7,000. It was her first-ever paid work. If her family had any hesitation about the type of work their daughter would be doing, her wages quickly turned the doubts to dust – sawdust. And Parveen enjoys the liberation from the daily household chores to make lovely items for other people’s homes.

The Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project is an ILO project funded by the Government of Canada and carried out in close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. The initiative aims to make skills in Bangladesh nationally recognized, accessible to all, higher quality and directly linked to jobs.