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TEXTILES


Textile industry is growing, with a promise of becoming a new major source of earning foreign currency through export and big contribution in Bangladesh economy and national income. Import substitution policies formed the basis of the modern textile industry in all three countries. After Bangladesh became independent in 1972, there was a policy shift away from promoting large mills to traditional handloom production, in an attempt to cope with the serious unemployment problem. Also in Indonesia, conscious labor market policies favored labor-intensive technologies to create much needed employment opportunities. Foreign investors have been attracted by favourable legislation and/or the provision of special facilities (such as the Bangladesh EPZ). The export promotion drive in all three countries stimulated the demand for cheap female labour, and the supply was increased by the decline of rural job opportunities. The result is a heavy predominance of women in the textile industry in Thailand and Indonesia. In Bangladesh, the number of women in the industry has not grown as rapidly. Men have retained their traditionally predominant role, partly because backward technologies require considerable physical strength and also because of lack of alternative employment opportunities. In addition, labour regulations allowing women to do only work which is 'appropriate to women' leave considerable scope for discrimination in hiring practices, which are still heavily influenced by traditional sociocultural values.