Countries throughout Asia are pursuing labor-intensive manufacturing strategies to boost economic growth and create jobs, raising critical questions: How can countries balance the need to create formal economy job opportunities with the growing concern over labor rights and working conditions in factories? How can corporations govern and manage their increasingly complex value chains to avoid the kinds of industrial disasters that ultimately harm both workers and multinationals? And – most importantly – how can governments and the private sector work together to ensure that the jobs created through export-oriented labor-intensive manufacturing are carving a pathway into the middle class for the millions of women and youth employed in them?

Selima Ahmad is the founder of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), a non-profit, non-political organization whose aim is to encourage women’s participation in the private sector as entrepreneurs. BWCCI promotes a women-friendly business environment and provides women entrepreneurs with technical training and financial resources to encourage their economic independence. BWCCI is committed to leading broad-based economic development for businesswomen, especially rural women entrepreneurs.

Rafaelita Aldaba is Assistant Secretary for Industry Development at the Department of Trade and Industry, Philippines. Prior to this appointment, she served as acting Vice President of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). She has written extensively about small and medium enterprises, trade liberalization, industrial policies, and foreign direct investments. She has a PhD in Economics from the University of the Philippines, and completed her advanced studies in International Economic Policy Research at the Kiel Institute of World Economics in Germany.

Sabina Dewan is Executive Director of the JustJobs Network – a global research institution building evidence-based solutions to create more and better employment. She is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Ms. Dewan publishes on a range of economic issues, including the impact of free trade agreements on employment, the nexus of job creation and renewable energy, and strategies to improve youth employment opportunities. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California at Los Angeles and an Advanced Master’s in Quantitative Analysis from the Catholic University of Brussels.

Zaw Oo serves as a presidential advisor to Myanmar’s President Thein Sein in the National Economic and Social Advisory Council. He is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Development of the Myanmar Development Resource Institute, a leading think tank in Yangon. His think tank is providing leading advice on labor market reforms during Myanmar’s transition. He holds a Ph.D. in Development Economics from American University.

Martin Rama is the Chief Economist for South Asia at the World Bank, based in New Delhi. He authored the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs. He was previously the Lead Economist and acting Country Director in Vietnam for the World Bank in Hanoi, and prior to this appointment he managed a large World Bank research program on the impact of labor market policies and institutions on economic performance. He holds a Ph.D. in macroeconomics from Université de Paris I.
Opening Remarks:

Anindya Chatterjee is the Regional Director for Asia of the International Development Research Centre, based in New Delhi. He provides leadership in the area of global health and development. Dr. Chatterjee formerly worked with the United Nations and has been closely involved with IDRC’s national programs across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He completed his doctorate in psychiatry from the University College of Medicine in India and post-doctoral work in anthropology and public health at University of Calcutta and University of California at Los Angeles.


Andrew North is the former BBC South Asia correspondent. He is now a freelance journalist and writer based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Andrew has reported widely from across Asia and the Middle East, and he was previously the BBC’s resident correspondent in Afghanistan, Iraq and Washington. He began his journalistic career after studying geography at the University of London.


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