Ten Companies Commit to Improving the Health and Empowerment of More Than 250,000 Women Workers in Global Supply Chains

Ten global companies today announced new and expansive commitments to improving the health and empowerment of a combined more than 250,000 women workers and community members around the globe. Commitments from Unilever, Twinings, Nordstrom, Lindex, Shahi, MAS Holdings, Hela Clothing, Inditex, Share Hope, and Ethical Apparel Africa will reach workers in 14 countries with health and empowerment information or services, such as contraception, maternal health, menstrual health, reproductive cancer screening, skill building, anti-harassment programs, and more.

These groundbreaking commitments, announced at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest global gathering on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women – are part of a growing movement in the private sector to connect the dots between women’s shift into the global workforce, their unmet need for essential health and empowerment information and services, and the business potential of a healthy and productive workforce.

Women in developing countries are entering the workforce at unprecedented rates. Hundreds of millions of women work in global supply chains, and in sectors like garment manufacturing, flower farming, and coffee, cocoa, and tea production, women make up between 50 and 80 percent of the workforce. But too often, the needs of these women workers – from basic health care, to protection from harassment and violence, to economic empowerment – are neglected. Investing in women’s health and well-being in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do: a healthier workforce reduces absenteeism and turnover while increasing productivity, helping companies reap the benefits of financial returns and social impact.

“Companies employing millions of women in their global supply chains have an enormous opportunity to invest in the health and empowerment of their workforce, helping meet women right where they are – in the workplace – with critical information and services, while building a healthier, more productive workforce,” said Robyn Russell, Director of Programs and Innovation at the United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project. “It’s a win for women and for business.”

Commitments include:

  • Unilever will invest 2 million Euros to implement the ‘Global Safety Framework for rural spaces’ co-created with UN Women and guarantee access to basic health care services (including family planning, maternal and mental health), reaching 70,000 people on and around its tea estates in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda by 2022; Unilever will also work with partners to create an industry-wide action platform to promote women’s safety and empowerment in Assam, India. “As the largest tea company in the world, we are working hard to ensure all our workers, particularly women, are safe, healthy, and respected. I have seen firsthand the positive impact we can have on the lives of the women who work on our tea estates, and I am delighted that this extension of our safety work will help even more women,” said Mick van Ettinger, Executive Vice-President Tea, Unilever.
  • Twinings, a global tea and beverage company, commits to reach all of its 75,000 female supply chain farmers in Kenya with the HERhealth training program by 2023. Additionally, Twinings will incorporate access to essential health and empowerment services including menstrual hygiene, contraception, maternal and infant care, cancer screenings, STI screenings and other critical services in Kenya, Malawi and India, reaching 50,000 women workers with health services by 2023. “Healthier, empowered and sustainable communities are essential to ensuring strong supply chains, but also we believe working to improve lives in our supply chain is the right thing to do. Women form most of the workforce in tea gardens, but sexual health and reproductive rights can be a barrier to their development. When women and girls thrive, so do their societies. That’s why we are committed to empowering women in our supply chain through health and education,” said Céline Gilart, Head of Social Impact, Twinings.
  • Nordstrom, a global retailer, commits to sourcing 70 percent of all Nordstrom Made products from factories that support women’s empowerment by 2023. Nordstrom will reach 75,000 workers in Vietnam, India and Bangladesh through programs like HERhealth, HERfinance and HERrespect, among others. The company anticipates it will reach at least 40,000 workers with HERhealth programs alone. “Nordstrom takes great pride in the products we create, and we value the women and men in our global supply chain who make it possible. Women make up the majority of factory workers around the world, and we’re committed to supporting them in developing the skills they need to thrive both at work and beyond, through increased access to things like health resources and education,” said Jen Jackson Brown, President, Nordstrom Product Group.
  • Inditex, global fashion group, commits to expand its Women Empowerment Strategy in its supply chain to reach more than 1 million female workers with health, protection, and empowerment programs by 2022, and specifically commits to reaching at least 70,000 women workers with health care services such as maternity and reproductive health care by 2022. “Women play a critical role in the global garment industry, which is why Inditex places them at the center of our supply chain strategy. We can only foster a sustainable supply chain by taking a gender perspective that allows us to understand the issues faced by women and ensure they have access to health and well-being services they need to thrive.” Felix Poza, Chief Sustainability Officer, Inditex.
  • Lindex, a Swedish fashion chain, commits to ensure 80 percent of its first-tier suppliers have implemented WE Women (a program to incorporate gender equality into management systems and provide employee training) and HERhealth (a workplace program which provides information and training on health and empowerment topics including family planning, reproductive health, nutrition programs, and more) to reach at least 20,000 women

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