Women are most vulnerable to the economic shocks caused by Covid-19, especially along supply chains

Women are most vulnerable to the economic shocks caused by Covid-19, especially along supply chains

Inditex, Desigual and El Corte Inglés are among 16 companies participating in a new European programme to embed more gender-sensitive practices along supply chains – with a focus on the textile and clothing industry.

The WEPs Activator, jointly run by Amfori and the European Union-funded project 'WeEmpowerAsia' from UN Women, wants to drive change from boardrooms to the factory floor, targeting C-level leadership as well as divisions related to human resources, diversity, and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, procurement and supply chain management.

The participating companies, which also include Gina Tricot and Hunkemöller, range from multinationals to SMEs and will benefit from access to training tools and services, the development of corresponding 'gender action' plans, as well as tailored one-to-one support to implement them.

Christian Ewert, president at trade association Amfori, which represents global fashion, textile and retail organisations, says the ten-month programme is a way to fast track gender equality across supply chains globally. "Our mission of Trade with Purpose cannot be realised without business leadership and commitment to women's economic empowerment. The WEPs Activator brings us closer to achieving this mission."

A number of initiatives to empower women have launched in the clothing and textile sector of late, including a new gender parity roadmap developed by an industry group that includes Ralph Lauren Corporation, PVH Corp and Lacoste.

Garment manufacturing giant Epic Group is launching a training scheme for female workers to progress through the leadership roles at the company, which is the single largest producer of woven bottoms and shirts in Bangladesh.

And a consortium of US apparel retailers has pledged to help the predominantly female garment workers in supply chains across Asia.