At a signing ceremony attended by U.S. Ambassador to Burma (now Myanmar), Derek J. Mitchell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Burma Mission Director, Chris Milligan, Gap Inc. announced that the company is partnering with USAID to invest in the social and economic growth of Burma. By producing its products from two factories in Rangoon, Gap Inc. becomes the first American retailer to enter the Burma market. The company’s partnership with USAID will help lay the foundation for Gap Inc. to provide growth and economic opportunities for women in the country.
The garment industry stands poised to become a significant source of jobs, exports and opportunity for the people of Burma. Similar to its entry into other new markets over the past few decades, Gap Inc. is applying industry-leading best practices, which include audits by a well-respected non-governmental organization, to ensure that internationally recognized human rights and labor standards are upheld in the factories from which the company is sourcing.
As part of this commitment, Gap Inc. will partner with CARE International in Burma to deliver its award-winning women’s advancement program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement), in the factories in which it does business by the end of this year, and in select communities where CARE is involved. Started in 2007, P.A.C.E. aims to promote the advancement of female garment workers by providing life skills education and technical training to help them become more successful both personally and professionally.
Through its partnership with USAID, Gap Inc. will work with Indiana University and Hewlett-Packard (HP) to further expand the P.A.C.E. Community Program. By leveraging their shared knowledge and expertise, the partnership will recruit and engage participants in HP LIFE Centers in multiple communities throughout the country.
“USAID is pleased to partner with Gap Inc., one of America’s leading corporations, to improve the economic well-being of the people of Burma. Through partnerships, such as this one today, we are working together to ensure that communities benefit from an economy reentering the international marketplace. Through this effort and other initiatives, we are encouraging responsible investment to improve the welfare of all people of this country,” said Chris Milligan, USAID/Burma Mission Director.
These efforts are consistent with Gap Inc.’s efforts to improve working conditions and build local capacity in garment factories around the world.