The products and services that keep our societies advancing depend on interconnected economies and global supply chains. Often, if you follow these chains to their very end, you will find women in factories or on farms: Approximately 200 million women work in global supply chains. From Bangladesh and China to Kenya and Ethiopia, women are at the heart of the production of many of the clothes we wear and much of the food we consume.
Yet these women face specific systemic discrimination and inequality that makes their lives harder—and that weakens the supply chain. This inequality exists both inside and outside the workplace. For example, a man with the same experience and educational background can expect to make 41 percent more than his female counterparts in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, women in MENA and South Asian countries do 80-90 percent of the total unpaid care work.
BSR's HERproject is based on the belief that women can be powerful agents of change to address these inequalities. When low-income working women are empowered to make and act on choices they value, they can change their workplaces, communities, and societies for the better.
Through discussions with our global brands and partners, we have developed a new vision and model for empowering women in global supply chains. The aim of our new HERproject strategy is ambitious: With our partners, we will double our impact and improve the well-being, confidence, and economic potential of 1.6 million women workers by 2022.
Over the last ten years, we have brought together global brands, their suppliers, and local NGOs to deliver workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality. Having worked with over 60 brands in 14 countries to empower over 800,000 women, HERproject has become the largest workplace program devoted to unlocking the potential of women workers in global supply chains.
We are proud to have stood with inspirational—and powerful—women around the globe as they drive major change in their own lives as well as in the lives of their colleagues, families, and communities.
But we don’t believe in standing still. The supply chains we work in are constantly evolving; the lives and conditions of women are not static, and neither is HERproject.
To implement our strategy, we are asking brands to make a major commitment to women’s empowerment. Through HERproject, we would like to work with our partners and help them to:
- Integrate women’s empowerment into their sourcing practices;
- Support and recognize suppliers to make progress on women’s empowerment;
- Work toward a greater level of integration and buy-in at the supplier level; and
- Collaborate with peers and key stakeholders to set the agenda for improved outcomes for women in global supply chains.
We would also like committed brands to work with us to enhance the visibility of women workers in global supply chains through their collective reach and influence. We commit to help brands speak up, louder and more frequently, for the rights and welfare of these women in global policy debates.
It’s time for all of us to up our game and aim higher. For genuine change for women in supply chains, we need to commit and collaborate. Our new strategy outlines a pathway for us to achieve our vision together: empowered women, dignified work, better business.
We look forward to deepening our engagement with our existing partners and to welcoming new partners to these efforts. To learn more about these possibilities and to discuss your involvement with HERproject, please contact us.