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ILO and UNICEF Joint Statement on International Day of the Girl

With Her: A Skilled GirlForce

Dhaka, 11 October 2018: A generation of girls in Bangladesh are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. They risk being left outside the labour force or trapped in vulnerable or low quality informal employment, due to lack of skills and quality jobs, and expectations from their reproductive roles. Girls are often at the most marginalized segments of the informal economy with fewer assets, greater risks and lower income. Those in rural areas and with disabilities have even less access to decent work.

Almost 40 per cent of secondary-school age children in Bangladesh are out-of-school, and vulnerable to child marriage and child labour. The last Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics survey on Child Labour estimated that 745,690 girls from 5 to 17 years old are engaged in child labour and 1.2 million working girls are engaged in non-formal sectors in the country. The dropout rate in secondary education for girls is 41.52 per cent, which for boys is 33.43 per cent.

The Government of Bangladesh has developed a National Skills Development Policy (NSDP), with the provision of increasing girls’ enrolment in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), however the take up is low. In 2016, girls made up less than 25 per cent of total enrolled students, despite the increase in number of TVET institutes from 1,137 in 2000 to 5,897 in 2016.

ILO and UNICEF in Bangladesh, are working with the government and partners to expand existing learning opportunities to prepare the girls for a successful transition into the world of work. For example, UNICEF is supporting an Alternative Learning Program (ALP) through informal apprenticeship which is helping out-of-school adolescent girls in acquiring technical and transferable skills and linking them with employment and further education. ILO is working on placing girls in non-traditional occupations, such as carpentry, tour guiding, electric appliances and mobile phone repair, which is helping to challenge workplace gender stereotyping. These alternative learning pathways are providing a second chance to girls for future employability.

Focusing on school enrollment and labor force participation of adolescent girls is an important pathway for poverty reduction and economic development. Economic participation in late adolescence can help overcome material, social and cultural barriers to economic gains in adulthood.

To support A Skilled GirlForce, we must go beyond providing access and completion of school. We must make efforts to advocate for, draw attention to and invest on the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.
On this International Day of Girl, ILO and UNICEF call on the government, development partners, civil society organisations and the private sector to accelerate efforts to empower girls, improve accessibility and prepare them with 21st century skills and provide them the space to pursue their careers needed for life long success.

For more information:

Faria Selim, UNICEF Bangladesh, Tel: (+88) 01817586096,
AM Sakil Faizullah, UNICEF Bangladesh, Tel: (+88) 01713049900,
Shahabuddin Khan, ILO Bangladesh, Tel: 09678777458,



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