Amfori to boost gender equality in supply chains in Bangladesh, China and India

Amfori, the global business association for open and sustainable trade, announced last Thursday that it has launched an ambitious programme to empower women in global supply chains, particularly in its three most important sourcing countries China, Bangladesh and India. The latter two will cover the textile and garment sectors, where women represent 70-90 percent of the workforce, but are disproportionately represented at the lowest tiers of the supply chain and are often subject to discrimination and sexual harassment.

“By empowering women, we empower communities and society at large. But this is not just a moral imperative for companies. Working towards eliminating gender-based discrimination, promoting career opportunities and including women in decision-making are all modes of empowerment, which in turn can enhance productivity, make businesses and their supply chains more resilient and bring financial returns,” stated Amfori president Christian Ewert in a press release.

In particular, the Women’s Empowerment Programme embodies three specific projects in Amfori’s three biggest sourcing countries – China, India and Bangladesh. It aims to ensure that women’s rights are protected and will offer them the training and guidance necessary to advance their careers.

The new programme builds on Amfori’s BSCI Code of Conduct, which is based on the principles of no gender-based discrimination and no precarious employment. Training aims at facilitating a shift in mindset regarding women at work, bringing about tangible behavioural change and policy improvements.

The association stresses the fact that the programme’s activities will be tailored to the local needs and carried out in partnership with strategic stakeholders, namely the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in China, the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in India and the NGO CSR Centre and garment manufacturer DBL Group Inc. in Bangladesh.

For each country, a specific focus has been identified: In China, it will be in-depth research and policy recommendations to tackle the complex challenges of female migration to metropolitan areas; in India, raising awareness among workers and supervisors on labour rights and grievance mechanisms and supporting compliance with national laws on sexual harassment; and in Bangladesh, leadership training for upward mobility and participation in representative bodies.

“Amfori’s Women’s Empowerment Programme is designed to be a win-win for women workers, producers and stakeholders. Local producers will improve management skills, which will contribute to increased worker retention and productivity. Women workers will gain confidence and new skills, and benefit from improved working conditions and career opportunities. Trust in local factories and within global value chains will increase,” explained the sustainable trade association.

According to the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE), by 2050, improving gender equality would lead to an increase in GDP per capita by 6.1 to 9.6 percent in the EU, which amounts to 1.95 to 3.15 trillion euros. Amfori’s new Women’s Empowerment Programme will thus contribute to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and Goal 8 for decent work and inclusive, sustainable economic growth.

The new programme will be introduced at the Amfori Gender Equality Forum “Unleashing the Full Potential of Women in Global Supply Chains”, taking place in Stockholm on 2nd October 2018. Information about specific projects and partnerships in each of the three countries can be found on Amfori’s website at amfori.org/content/women’s-empowerment.

Photo: Female garment workers in Bangladesh via Amfori website
 

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