Today Walmart launched its Women in Factories program, a five-year initiative that will empower 60,000 women working in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America. The program, which is being implemented in collaboration with local NGOs, will teach critical life skills related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. The program will be evaluated by Northwestern University in partnership with DAI and Mission Measurement. Up to 8,000 women will also receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development.
"At Walmart, we know that there is perhaps no single issue more essential to the progress of our world than the progress of women. Through this program, women in the supply chain will receive the education and training they need to achieve greater success in their jobs and live a better life," said Rajan Kamalanathan, vice president of Walmart Ethical Sourcing. "We are proud to partner with local NGOs to implement this innovative program and provide new opportunities for the people and communities that are involved in the global supply chain."
The Women in Factories initiative is innovative in the retail and apparel industry:
The training and education program is comprehensive and designed to empower women at work, home and in their communities;
The initiative teaches participating suppliers and factory managers how to permanently sustain and replicate the program; and
The curriculum developed by the NGOs in consultation with Walmart Ethical Sourcing will be shared with other retailers to potentially implement within their supply chains.
The program will be rolled out to 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America over the next five years, initially launching in Bangladesh and India in 2012. The program was designed and will be implemented in collaboration with CARE in Bangladesh and SWASTI in India.