In July, amfori, in partnership with CSR Centre and DBL Group, hosted its first Multi-stakeholder Forum on Women’s Empowerment in Dhaka. The event brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to engage in a dialogue on the challenges that female factory workers face in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, as well as the opportunities that women’s empowerment holds.
The Forum marks the completion of the first phase of amfori’s Shobola Project, launched in January 2019 to secure the buy-in from the six participating factories. The key focus of the project will now be dedicated to developing and rolling-out trainings to sensitise top- and mid-level management to gender equality and to empower female workers through leadership exercises and training.
Attendees exchanged views on how best to advance the objectives of the Project, with suggestions including:
- scaling up activities beyond the six identified factories;
- involving men as well as women in the trainings, better engaging buyers linked to the factories in the project; and
- ensuring job security of factory staff that take the trainings provided by the Project.
Significant features of the discussion included clear endorsements and expressions of support for the project from a representative of the Bangladeshi government, and from a factory worker who experienced a training similar to that envisaged by the Shobola Project.
The Shobola Project is part of amfori’s Women’s Empowerment Programme, which aims to create an enabling workplace environment for women and men and drive long-term social performance improvements for amfori members and their producers.
Further deepening amfori’s commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality amfori, in May 2019, signed the UN Declaration on Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development along with 55 other standardisation bodies.
This commitment to gender equality is also very much in line with other recent UN accords on gender such as the legally binding June 2019 ILO convention banning violence and harassment at work and the UN report on the Gender Dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, published by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.