Frequently Asked Questions
What is HERproject?
HERproject is a BSR initiative that catalyzes partnerships among international brand-name companies, suppliers, and NGOs to implement women’s empowerment programs in factories around the world through two programs, HERhealth (created in 2007) and HERfinance (launched in 2012).
These factory-based programs are centered on the provision of critical health and financial literacy information and services to increase female factory workers’ general and reproductive health and build their financial capability.
HERproject provides health and finance literacy trainings using a peer-education methodology. For more information check out Our Theory of Change.
What is BSR and how is BSR involved in HERproject?
BSR works with its global network of more than 250 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. For more information, visit www.bsr.org.
BSR created HERproject in 2007 to address a need for women’s health education partnerships in the manufacturing sector. In late 2012, BSR launched HERfinance, which leveraged the HERproject model to address financial inclusion in global supply chains.
Today, BSR designs and oversees all of HERproject’s global activities, and it links multinational companies and their factories to local NGOs. BSR selects and manages local implementing-partner relationships, and conducts advocacy and communication in support of the program and women’s health and financial education.
In which workplaces is HERproject implemented?
HERproject is currently implemented in factories making apparel, footwear, accessories, and home goods. HERproject is also active in cut-flower farms and food-processing plants.
How many factories are participating in HERproject?
HERproject is active in over 250 factories and farms in more than 10 countries.
Why is BSR working on women’s empowerment?
BSR believes that investing in women is good not only for communities and sustainable development, but also for business.
In fulfilling our mission of building a just and sustainable world, we believe that the world’s women will be critical partners to us, and to our member companies.
Supporting women’s health and financial inclusion in global supply chains is a key part of the initiative, and is an issue in which BSR is proud to demonstrate leadership.
Is HERproject exclusively focused on women
While the focus of HERproject is the empowerment of low-income women, men are critical to achieving this objective and are also part of HERproject programs around the world.
In China and Vietnam, male workers have participated in some HERhealth programs and have been invited to large HERhealth group lectures.
In Pakistan, a HERhealth Curriculum on general health, safe sex, and women’s reproductive health has been developed for male workers because of the higher percentage of male workers in that country, as well as a significant need for the information among both male and female workers.
Men and women participate equally in all HERfinance programs. While the focus of HERfinance is improving women’s access and knowledge around financial services, finance is often a household matter. Studies have shown that when men and women collaborate on household financial planning, the family is much more likely to meet its financial goals. Therefore, while much of our curriculum is tailored to the needs of women who generally have a larger financial knowledge gap than men, we believe the best way to meet the needs of women is to ensure that both men and women have equal access to knowledge, information, and services.
What is the cost of implementation in each factory?
Sponsorships to implement HERproject range from US$4,700 to US$7,500 per factory per year, depending on the country and the program (HERhealth or HERfinance), and are given directly to the local NGO implementation partner.
How long is the project implementation period?
HERhealth is typically implemented over a 12 to 18 month period, while HERfinance programs run for 6 to 8 months. During this time BSR’s local partners work with factory management to conduct a needs assessment, tailor the trainings to meet local needs, and enable the peer educators to conduct a series of trainings for factory staff.
Who implements HERproject trainings in the factories?
BSR’s local NGO partners deliver the trainings in the factories. BSR works with partners to build their capacity to implement effective workplace health and financial education programs, and BSR benefits from our partners’ knowledge of the local language, context, and traditions. Furthermore, these trainings delivered by local partner staff increase the credibility of the curriculum with the factory workforce.
Our implementing partners can be found on the Implementing Partners page.
How is the project tailored to each factory to account for local and cultural contexts?
HERproject always engages factory management, clinic staff, welfare officers, and others as critical partners in program success. In partnership with local partner organizations, the HERproject Curriculum is used in a varying degree in each factory depending on local cultural contexts and factory workers’ needs.
How are peer educators selected?
Local partners work with factory management to select the peer educators. The role of peer educator also serves as a form of empowerment for women by instilling in each a sense of pride, confidence, and leadership.
What is the sponsoring company’s role?
Companies provide access to factories, cover initial implementation costs, and enable program replication and expansion. They play a crucial role in bringing their supplier factories on board and demonstrating the importance of worker-health and financial capability programs. Companies benefit from subsidized participation in a quality-controlled program.
What is the factory’s role?
Factories provide access to workers, facilities to conduct the trainings, and time for their employees to attend and redeliver the training to the rest of the workforce. Factory management is also engaged to discuss enhancements to their on-site clinic and/or payroll administration process to support better health and financial outcomes for their staff. Factory management is crucial to creating a safe and open environment that is conducive to education and empowering women. Factories benefit from workers who are absent less, more productive, and less likely to leave.
What happens after the HERproject implementation period ends at the factory?
The peer education methodology helps enable program sustainability so that factory workers take ownership of the training materials. Most factories have existing clinics, welfare officers, and human resources staff that can assume a management role as the project progresses so that the factory can easily maintain activities after the HERproject implementation period is over.
How are health and financial education trainings conducted?
BSR’s locally based implementing partners in each HERproject country conduct the trainings inside the factory on health and financial education.
HERproject uses a peer education methodology whereby a workers are identified to serve as educators to their peers and are provided with in-depth training on the HERproject Curriculum, as well as communication and training skills.
The peer educators are then expected to provide formal and informal trainings throughout the project period to their peers. Peer educators have access to regular check-ins for knowledge refreshment throughout the year.
HERproject has found that our peer education model is an efficient and cost-effective way to reach a large and underserved population of women.
How many women have been impacted to date by HERproject programs?
Since HERproject was started in 2007 HERproject programs have reached more than 250,000 women in factories and farms around the world. However, the impact is far greater, as an average 80 percent of workers report sharing the information they’ve learned outside the factory walls—in their homes, places of worship, and communities.
What is the demographic of the workers?
Many female workers in HERproject factories and farms represent vulnerable populations. They are often young and undereducated migrants who move from rural areas to cities in search of work.
What types of health problems do female factory workers face?
Low-wage female factory workers often suffer from anemia, poor hygiene, inadequate pre- and post-natal care, sexual violence, and exposure to infections and illness. Lack of education and access to resources contribute to unsafe sexual behaviors, sometimes leading to unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections. These circumstances lower women’s quality of life and inhibit their ability to provide for their families. They also contribute to high rates of malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality, and the spread of sexually transmitted and other preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis.
How do these health problems affect business?
Preventable conditions or diseases severely impact workers’ quality of life and greatly reduce productivity while increasing the likelihood of health-related absenteeism. Health problems among staff also have negative impacts on attrition, concentration, and energy levels.
Does HERhealth connect workers to health services?
HERhealth strives to improve the connections to existing health services through referrals, site visits, and service-provision partnerships with public and private health providers.
We also work with our participating factories to improve the abilities of their onsite health staff, including both nurses and doctors, to provide additional counseling and services to workers.
What financial challenges do female factory workers face?
Women who work in factories tend to be largely outside of the formal financial system. Even if they are paid through direct deposit, many women continue to store their incomes in cash, jewelry, or informal group savings schemes rather than in banks. Despite earning their own incomes, women also have less control and decision-making influence over how their salaries are allocated than men, and are often given an allowance by the head of their household with which they must manage all household expenses. Women are also far less likely than men to have ever visited a bank branch, or used an ATM. This lack of familiarity and comfort with banking is often the reason women rely on informal financial services, or allow others to access or control their savings accounts.
Why is investing in women’s financial capability important?
Studies have shown that when women have more ownership over their own incomes and accounts, this increases their influence and bargaining power in their households. They are more likely to make financial decisions jointly with their spouses, which increases the likelihood of the family achieving its financial goals. In addition, women tend to prioritize health and education for spending, which improves the overall family’s livelihood.