BRUSSELS – Having drawn inspiration from the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and its own Vision 2030 initiative, Amfori has launched a programme seeking to empower women throughout global supply chains.
The Women’s Empowerment Programme will incorporate three specific projects in the manufacturing powerhouses of China, India and Bangladesh; with the primary aim of ensuring women’s rights are protected and that training and guidance is made available wherever necessary.
The newly-established programme will look to build on Amfori’s BSCI Code of Conduct, rooted in the principles of no gender-based discrimination and no precarious employment at any stage of the supply chain.
Activities will be tailored to the local needs of particular areas, and delivered in partnership with strategic stakeholders: the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in China, the Confederation of Indian Industries in India and the CSR Centre and DBL Group in Bangladesh.
Amfori has explained that the focus of the programme’s operations in China will be conducting in-depth research and providing policy recommendations to tackle the complex challenges of female migration to metropolitan areas; in India it will work to raise awareness among workers and supervisors on labour rights and grievance mechanisms, supporting compliance with national laws on sexual harassment; and leadership training for upward mobility and participation in representative bodies for Bangladesh.
In India and Bangladesh, the programme will cover the textile and garment sectors where women represent between 70-90 per cent of the workforce, but are disproportionately represented at the lowest tiers of the supply chain and often subject to discrimination and sexual harassment.
Amfori believes its Women’s Empowerment Programme will represent a ‘win-win’ scenario for women workers, producers and stakeholders alike. Local producers will get the opportunity to improve management skills, a factor which can lead to increased worker retention and productivity.
Women workers, it is hoped, will gain confidence and new skills, along with benefitting from improved working conditions and career opportunities.
The case for implementing gender equality is by no means confined to a moral issue, according to the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE), improving gender equality would lead to an increase in EU GDP per capita by 6.1-9.6 per cent, amounting to €1.95 to €3.15 trillion by 2050.
The Women’s Empowerment Programme could, therefor, contribute significantly to the advancement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 (to achieve gender equality) and Goal 8 (for decent work and inclusive, sustainable economic growth).
Christian Ewert, president of Amfori, said: “Businesses have a fundamental role to play in advancing progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 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.”