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Walmart launches 'Women in Factories' program
Apr '12
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. 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. The program will be evaluated by Northwestern University in partnership with DAI and Mission Measurement.

Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, said, “what if every woman working in a factory understood how to manage her income, shared recommendations to improve the factory's efficiency with her manager and knew where she and her family could receive health care? Through Walmart's partnership with CARE, women in Bangladesh will develop these skills and more, giving them the confidence they need to take control of their lives and their futures.”

Shiv Kumar, CEO of SWASTI, said: “Walmart's openness to co-create the Women in Factories program with active participation of partners has been impressive, it has led to a women-centric and result oriented empowerment initiative which will contribute significantly in changing the lives of women who work in factories. We deeply appreciate the willingness to listen to women, to their partners and to solutions from those on the ground in a constant endeavor to make the program better."

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