Empowering Female Workers in the Apparel Industry Three Areas for Business Action

Updated : October 2020


  • NGOs
  • Production professionals
  • Textile education professionals
  • Textile industry training professionals
The substantial attention on women’s contributions to and challenges within the global apparel sector over the last decade has spurred many initiatives seeking to improve working conditions, build skills, and promote well-being for women workers. This paper proposes three critical areas for global apparel sector investment—in collaboration with other sectors—to boost the economic empowerment of women workers. One of the areas includes addressing informality, where efforts are underway to address this challenge, including initiatives to improve supply chain transparency and traceability. Brands are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue to support policies and norms that favor and promote formality in the workplace. Successful efforts to address sexual harassment and violence against women workers should consider not only workplace interventions but should also aim to understand vulnerabilities and patterns of harassment and violence outside of the workplace, tap into public systems, and work to strengthen those systems. Given that apparel workers are predominantly women in their reproductive years, lack of access to affordable, quality childcare remains a barrier for effective, long-term participation at work. Apparel sector companies can reduce this barrier by supporting access to high quality, family-centered childcare. Work to advance one area can boost efforts in another and, on the flip side, unaddressed needs in one area may negatively impact the outcomes of efforts in another. The report strongly encourages collaboration across the whole value chain and beyond to tackle root causes and help improvements take hold for the long term. Through partnership and collaborating, companies can enable NGOs, community organizations, and business partners to promote women’s economic empowerment in the supply chain.

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Policies and norms that promote formality in the workplace

Public systems to address violence against women workers

Access to high quality family-centered childcare for women workers

Creating environments conducive to gender equality

Enable stakeholders to promote women’s economic empowerment in fashionsupply chain

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