Wrangler and Lee brand owner Kontoor Brands has teamed up with the HERproject women’s empowerment programme to boost healthcare knowledge, critical health services and products for women in its supplier factories.
The company’s responsible sourcing teams partnered with global nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to roll out its HERhealth project across factories in Bangladesh and Kenya prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In Bangladesh, women comprise more than 65% of the garment industry workforce,” says Wesley Gibson, vice president and managing director, product supply, Kontoor Brands. “That’s why it’s critically important for us to protect and promote women’s rights in the workplace, and engage in projects like HERhealth – a programme that educates women on nutrition, hygiene practices, children’s health and family planning.”
HERhealth focuses on building capacity and strengthening systems, with seven key strategies:
- Raising awareness on critical health topics such as healthy eating, personal hygiene and maternal health;
- Improving health-related behaviours such as disease testing, seeking out preventative care, and conducting preventative self-examinations;
- Addressing common myths and misconceptions around potentially harmful practices and beliefs;
- Building confidence and communication skills around discussing important health issues at work and at home;
- Improving the capacity of the workplace clinic to respond to workers’ health needs;
- Linking workplaces with external services providers; and
- Strengthening workplace policies and systems promoting worker well-being.
There are also business benefits for the factories involved, such as reduced health-related absenteeism and improved worker-management relations.
“HERproject is delighted to have worked with Kontoor Brands to implement our HERhealth programmes,” says Smita Nimilita, Bangladesh country representative, HERproject. “Global brands have the opportunity to create major positive impacts for women’s health by collaborating with their suppliers. This kind of collaboration and investment is more important than ever.”