Better balance for a better world
On International Women’s Day, Better Work outlines the benefits of making garment factories places of equal opportunity.
March 8, 2019
Geneva – “Working in the factory has changed my life,” says Majda, a sewing machine operator from Jordan. “I can now support the needs of my family and my confidence has grown too. I hope every woman in the world can find a job.”
Better Work’s research and on-the-ground experience echo Majda’s testimony. Promoting equality and women’s empowerment brings benefits not only for female workers, but also for their families and communities. Plus, the data shows, there are business benefits too.
Better Balance, Better World, released today for International Women’s Day, summarizes the programme’s findings on gender as well as independent research on the topic. Highlights include the following:
♦ Of the estimated 60 million workers in the garment sector, 75 percent are women, but not nearly this proportion is represented in leadership roles. In Better Work countries, the gap is closest in Vietnam, where 70 percent of supervisors are women in a workforce where they make up 78 percent of the total. In Bangladesh, women have just seven percent of supervisory roles, though they are 53 percent of the workforce.
♦ Workplace gender discrimination is often linked to job roles. In Vietnam, 92% of the lowest paid positions go to women.
♦ According to the paper, addressing such gender imbalances has knock-on benefits beyond the workplace. The skills learned at work, along with the improved incomes that often follow from improved working conditions, have elevated the position of women in their homes and contributed to more balanced family life, as well as to better educational opportunities and healthcare for workers’ children.
♦ Tackling gender imbalance can also improve firms’ bottom line. Research from Tufts University has shown that providing training to female supervisors can boost line productivity by more than a fifth, for example.
♦ Gender balance in worker-management committees is also an important issue. Factories that have female representation in committees proportionate to the factory workforce have overall reduced levels of industrial unrest.
Read Better Balance, Better World to find out more and hear a cross-section of women’s voices from around the global garment industry below.