Gender equality and inclusion are at the centre of the design and implementation of all Better Work interventions. In an industry dominated by women, nearly eight in ten workers across all factories enrolled in Better Work are women, with the majority under the age of 30.
Despite their prominent role in the sector, women’s experiences tend to differ from their male counterparts, with women having less opportunity to progress at work, receiving lower pay and suffering higher levels of abusive treatment.
Better Work’s interventions aim to be gender transformative at their core and remove barriers to women’s participation and advancement in the workplace and beyond. We have seen that the effective empowerment of women is the key that unlocks our success, functioning as a driver of compliance, increased productivity and profitability, eventually strengthening dialogue, health and education outcomes for workers and their families.
Analysis demonstrates how our activities improve representation and equality by giving a sense of empowerment and skills sets to women workers on the factory floor. But we do not stop there. We help promote behavioural change and address entrenched social norms, with spillover effects also registered in workers’ households.
Since 2018, Better Work has been implementing a dedicated gender strategy addressing issues of discrimination, paid work and care, voice and representation, and leadership and skills development. The programme has embedded gender equality principles in all its factory operations, and has disseminated evidence among constituents, promoting a greater understanding of gender equality including during times of crisis. We have also invested in our own capacity building to model gender transformative behaviours. More recently, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women’s health and care duties as well as the incidence of harassment and discrimination brought gender and inclusion to the forefront as priorities to tackle with greater urgency.
Over its years of implementation, Better Work has built a position of trust and confidence with sectoral and national constituents, global brands, retailers, manufacturers and within the academic community and civil society. We renew our efforts for an inclusive sector empowering and providing equal and decent work opportunities for all.
Better Work will keep striving for an industry free from gender-based violence and harassment and other forms of discrimination, with equal pay and consideration of unpaid care work across the industry.
Better Work’s Impact
In alignment with ILO-wide activities promoting Convention 190, strengthening awareness and knowledge on violence and harassment across the factory floor has been one of our focuses. Such issues remain prevalent and serious in the industry, with concerns having only increased during the pandemic. However, Better Work interventions have had a measurable impact in preventing and addressing workplace violence and harassment.
Better Work Action Plan
Building on the programme’s success, Better Work will keep striving for a gender equal and inclusive recovery from COVID-19 by redoubling its efforts across the industry with its partners. Better Work’s new strategy revolves around its already established four pillars.
Better Work’s Gender and Inclusion Action Plan is responsive and designed to evolve over the lifetime of our strategy, Sustaining Impact, 2022/27. In consultation with global and national partners, we will continue to refine our action plans to ensure they support long-term, progressive change.
Better Work will place a stronger emphasis on social dialogue and management systems to sustain a more inclusive workplace structure. Outside of the factory, Better Work will promote and support the strengthening of referral pathways as well as fight gender stereotyping and discriminatory behaviours faced on the commute to and from work, in society and at home.
To achieve enhanced gender transformative approaches, Better Work will conduct research to better understand key barriers to gender and inclusion – not only in the workplace but in other spheres. We will deepen our focus on male engagement to address underlying root-causes of inequality, and focus on other forms of inclusion and intersectionality including based on migrant or disability status, as well as HIV positive and LGBTQI+ employees.
Better Work will identify and strengthen partnerships within the ILO and with external initiatives and organizations to scale and deepen impacts in these areas.