The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, launched the ‘Urbanization and Migration in Bangladesh’ study report on Wednesday with a call on authorities to pay attention to the new phenomenon.
“This trend, despite providing girls and women with new opportunities, comes with many challenges attached, which city administrations, policy-makers and employers need to pay close attention to,” UNFPA Country Representative Argentina Matavel Piccin said on Wednesday, speaking at the dissemination seminar of the study.
Member of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission Prof Shamsul Alam was also present.
The study found a strong female dominance from ages 10 to 29. For Dhaka megacity, there are 167 female migrants for every 100 male migrants while the number is 166 for every 100 male migrants in Chittagong district.
This is a “remarkable change” from the traditional male dominance of rural-urban migration at these ages, both in Bangladesh and elsewhere in South Asia, the researchers commented.
“The job opportunities that have opened for young women in the RMG industry are probably a large part of the explanation.”
Internationally acclaimed demographer Prof Gavin Jones, who was the Chief Editor of Demographic Impact Study (DIS), led a three-member research team for the study which was carried out mostly analysing the previous censuses including the latest one conducted in 2011.
Professor of the Department Geography and Environment of Dhaka University Dr AQM Mahbub and lecturer of the Department of Disaster Science and Management of Dhaka University Md Izazul Haq are the other two members.
The UNFPA said the idea for this study was to look more in-depth at migration and urbanisation issues and its implications.
The feminisation of migration represents a momentous change from the earlier, male-dominated patterns of migration to the cities.
The researchers called for facilitating women’s education, particularly at the tertiary level, where females still lag.
This will enable women to take up some of the more lucrative urban employments that have tended to be firmly in male hands and widen the range of employment opportunities for women.
They also suggested government-employer partnerships to improve dormitory and accommodation facilities for female factory workers, stressing on adequate hygiene, lighting, security and recreational facilities.
“While cities offer employment opportunities for girls and women, many of them face physical and sexual abuse and violence on the streets and in the workplace and are confronted with unequal treatment and unsafe working conditions,” the UNFPA representative said.
“To support the new generation of female migrants we need to open up new doors by facilitating their higher education and thus enabling them to gain access to the more lucrative urban employment opportunities beyond the RMG sector.
“For those working in factories more needs to be done to ensure their health and safety,” she said.