Farida, India’s largest shoe manufacturer, commits to expanding its Worker Champion program to reach its 25,000 women workers with training and awareness on reproductive and maternal and child health, prevention of sexual harassment, financial literacy, and professional advancement by 2024.
The Farida Group, India’s largest shoe manufacturer, has 27,000 employees, 95 percent of whom are women, and produces more than 35,000 pairs of shoes daily for global brands like Rockport, Clarks, and Cole Haan, sold in 40 countries. Farida commits to significantly expand its Worker Champion program to reach 25,000 women workers with training and awareness on reproductive and maternal and child health, prevention of sexual harassment, financial literacy, and professional advancement by 2024. This new commitment builds on the HERhealth model, first implemented by Business for Social Responsibility with St. Johns Medical College in 2016. The initial program has reached 3,000 workers, and under this expansion, Farida is dedicated to scaling up the program with St. Johns, with the goal of training five percent of its workforce as worker Champions who will hold monthly educational sessions for workers throughout Farida’s three main business segments: tanneries, uppers and shoe manufacturing units.
This commitment builds on Farida’s efforts to promote women’s professional advancement and personal well-being, including access to health and safety services. The company’s general and reproductive health services include a qualified, full-time nurse capable of talking with women workers, visits by female doctor twice a week for consultations, and referral to Employee State Insurance health facilities. A mobile van visits factories to do pap smears three times annually, and if further testing or treatment is needed, the company pays for the worker’s travel to a government hospital. Free sanitary napkins are provided to women workers, and their children receive free vaccinations on site. Farida also partners with the local police to prevent and address sexual harassment and gender-based violence by officially registering worker complaints on-site without having to visit a station.
Farida has a four-year budget to pay for the expansion of the Champions program. This program will also feed into the company assessment of each factory based on a Happy Factory Index, where it ranks each factory on its performance against a set of happiness parameters.
“We believe that empowering a woman empowers her family directly and her community indirectly. Our approach is to focus on health care, holistic development, safety and education of the women workers. It gives us immense satisfaction when programs instituted by us help our women employees overcome challenges in their lives. And I feel proud that our approach is a catalyst for positive change in the women’s lives,” - Mr. Rafeeque Ahmed Mecca, Chairman of the Farida Group.