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BEPZA receives IFC's CEO Gender Award
29
Mar '12
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has recognized the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) as one of the top three winners of its annual CEO Gender Award for a project promoting the cause of nearly 200,000 women workers.

The project is the first of its kind to address gender issues within special economic zones, and is essential for Bangladesh, where women constitute 64 percent of workers. The project aims to establish the development impact and business case for investing in women in the workforce. The Zones Authority project is supported by the Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund, managed by IFC, in partnership with the UK Department for International Development and the European Union.

“Women's economic empowerment is vital if a special economic zone is to become an agent for long-term sustainable growth,” said A.K.M. Mahbubur Rahman, Member, Finance, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority.

In order to promote the participation and advancement of women, the Authority has identified best global gender initiatives from eight countries, including both government and company policies. The Authority is now implementing similar initiatives in a pilot program at three levels: for workers, managers and entrepreneurs.

The Authority focuses on increasing access to finance and working with banks to design affordable savings and loan products for women workers, supervisory training comprising both technical and life skills, and increasing women's participation in worker welfare associations in zones. The project provides zone factories with incentives to fast-track women's career development opportunities.

"Implementing the gender program in export processing zones is important as zones serve as models for best practices to be replicated elsewhere," said Paramita Dasgupta, who leads IFC South Asia Investment Climate work. “The gender work in zones is particularly focused on improved and equal opportunities for women in zones.”

Special economic zones account for 1 percent of total global employment, and by moving Bangladeshi zones toward gender-inclusive employment policies, the project has the potential to change the lives of many women and their societies.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC)

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