Monday, March 31, 2008

shortage or female workers in the garment industry

The garment industry is short of about 100,000 females, and has accordingly decided to branch out and set up factories in other countries to counter this, as well as other reasons.

Of course there are many reasons including demographic that has contributed to this. There is however another new phenomenon that has suddenly surfaced. Women are getting married at a younger age, after a period where the marriage age had steadily risen with the empowerment of women in employment.

The reason for this is that with the sudden and planned increase in the troop strength, male soldiers are recruited and their families want them to get married perhaps due to better benefits for married soldiers but also so that in case they lose their lives, in a perverse kind of logic that they will leave behind a child. Therefore as a soldier is a marriageable proposition, when compared with the son who was just bumming around till then! The parents look for a suitable bride and arrange a marriage.

Women who get married are less likely to be boarded and go to work in the garment trade, and is thus contributing to this problem. Of course when they get pregnant this is even more of a reason for them to stop work, and so the issue has become a big problem for the garment trade. So far none of the strategies attempted to stall this loss has not worked.

Usually in Sri Lanka, the woman moves in with the husband’s family when she marries and therefore has to leave her present life, therefore this change makes it difficult in most instances to carry on in the same job, and one is unlikely to look for a job while living with in laws one has only recently met.

One can only hope that this is only a short term problem until the war ends and the forces are demobilized, but that does not detract from the very serious situation that has arisen. One way is to entice people back who have earlier left to marry and have children, and once the children are of a certain age, the incentives can be attractive enough to draw them back into employment. Rural women prefer to work from home once they have families, so the attraction back into the employment field has to be that much greater to entice them back in. Recruiters need to look at the cultural and family dynamics of society before making the judgment call.

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