Evidence from Better Work surveys shows that much like patterns across the global garment industry, the majority of workers (about 80%) in the factories where Better Work operates are women. Women in developing countries have rapidly entered the apparel labour force since the mid 1970’s. This has generated debate on whether these paid jobs result in female empowerment. Many scholars have highlighted that factory work for global markets can open up new avenues, for example by increasing their ﬁnancial independence, but it can also create new forms of gender subordination, such as when women are exposed to unfair labour practices. In this context, how can gender equality at the workplace be promoted?
Findings from a gender analysis of baseline data show that at the time that the garment factories joined Better Work Vietnam differences between male and female workers were marked. Women were positioned in different roles within factories and were less likely than men to receive training or to be promoted. Differences between women workers with varying levels of education were also signiﬁcant, in particular with regard to awareness of their entitlements and their likelihood of speaking up.
Better Work research briefs present a summary of the programme’s research findings on particular topics.