The global garment industry has always been a female-dominated industry but there have been concerns raised regarding the employment conditions for women in this industry. It is only in the last couple of years that garment companies have started focusing on women’s empowerment, as per a new study by GlobalData, a UK-based data analytics and consulting company. Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData, Michelle Russell says, “Women represent the majority of the garment industry workforce and, with increasing pressure on retailers and brands to ensure the ethical treatment of workers in their supply chains, there has inevitably been a focus on empowering women in their roles.”
As per the GlobalData report, several companies are taking action individually and in collaboration with other members of the industry to promote female empowerment within their value chains. For instance, a worker training toolkit Empower@Work Collaborative was launched recently as part of a joint industry initiative, which includes best practices for training of women and promoting gender equality in the supply chain.
CARE Australia and the Cotton On Group are also collaborating for a two-year project which will help increase the number of women in leadership positions within garment factories in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Shop Direct, Next and Varner have been working on improving the work conditions for young women in South India's fabric mills. They have been able to engage with around 9,500 women in the first phase of this scheme.
Michelle also said that as women make up a majority of the garment industry workforce, it is important for them to have a ‘voice’ and access to ‘better opportunities’. She said, “This is starting to happen as these initiatives gather pace, but companies need to ensure they use their collective influence to ensure these programmes have a lasting impact.”