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News & Stories


As COVID-19 has closed stores, shut down business operations and decimated factory production, the harm to women workers is both immediate and long-term, particularly in the apparel and footwear sectors where women make up the majority of the workforce. The establishment of a new normal will depend on actions taken now to build resilient supply chains and address the impact on women – and men workers – and their access to health care and critical social services.

The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)’s HER...

May 29, 2020

Most women experience more than 30 years of menstruation. The costs associated with menstruation products over a lifetime are not insignificant: in the UK they are estimated at £5,000. If affordability is a subject of discussion in high-income countries, this challenge is amplified in low-income sourcing countries. For example, although India declared tampons and sanitary napkins tax-free in 2018, most sanitary pads cost between 5 and 12 rupees (8-20 cents) per pad. For the nearly 276 million people who live on less than $1.90 a day, this is still far too expensive...

February 23, 2020

Meet Lalo Mahali, a tea worker from the Kachini Estate in West Bengal, India who also works as a health educator under the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI). When she was 16-years-old, Lalo Mahali’s mother - who worked on the same estate - retired and Lalo took over her role. A few months later, Lalo met a fellow tea estate worker on the same plantation, fell in love, and ran away with him. Unfortunately, later in the relationship he began drinking frequently and abusing Lalo. He sexually assaulted her, and she was forced to marry him due to societal pres...

February 23, 2020

Susheela is a 36-year-old supervisor at Shell Apparels in Bangalore, India a garment manufacturer that supplies to brands like United Colors of Benetton, Wrangler, Pepe Jeans, and Aeropostale. After losing her husband nine years ago and becoming a single mother, Susheela joined Shell Apparels as a tailor to support her family. In 2013, she received the opportunity to be a part of Walmart’s Women in Factories (WiF) Foundation training program, was then selected for the Advanced WiF training, and in 2014 was selected to attend the training of trainers program where s...

February 23, 2020

Meet Sudha, a 40-year-old native of Bangalore, India who has worked for the past five years as a garment worker and peer educator at Laj Exports in the Peenya Industrial Zone. Before this job, she worked at another factory for nine years but left to work at Laj Exports after hearing from others that the management invests in the health and well-being of its workers. As a veteran of the apparel sector, Sudha explained that the main health issues facing most female factory workers are menstrual-related, and how happy and proud she is to be a peer educator. In this ro...

February 23, 2020

Every day, Shubha Mangala leaves her village in the outskirts of Bangalore, India to travel to the Peenya Industrial zone where she has worked as a layer - marking garments with serial batch numbers -  at Laj Exports for the past 11 years, crafting garments for Western brands such as Wrangler, Lee, Guess, and United Colors of Benetton. Shubha Managala is also a peer educator as a part of the factory’s worker health and well-being program implemented by Swasti Health Catalyst, through which she has been trained on a broad range of health topics including nutrition,...

February 23, 2020

G.S Patil is the General Manager of Human Resources and Compliance at Laj Exports in Bangalore, India where for the past 10 years he has overseen the sourcing of major apparel brands such as Wrangler, Lee, Guess, and United Colors of Benetton. The majority -- 70% -- of the workers Patil oversees at the factory are women. 

In 2018, Laj Exports decided to implement the 14-month Zalando’s Life Skills for Empowering Women program supported by Swasti Health Catalyst that covered health (water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and anemia) financial inclusion (financial...

September 19, 2019

Download the Framework for Corporate Action on Workplace Women’s Health and Empowerment here

Women’s health is central to women’s empowerment, economic development, and opportunities for decent work. For the nearly 200 million women working in global supply chains to thrive and advance in the workplace, they need access to essential health care services from quality reproductive care to cancer screenings to protection from gender-based violence. But too often, the specific needs of these women workers have been under-prioritized or ignored.

Companies are taking not...

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Our Partners 


Non-governmental organizations and private-sector companies around the world are stepping up to improve the health and well-being of women in their workforce and supply chains. 



The organizations below have years of experience implementing workplace programs with great returns and they are ready to work with you. Click below to learn more.




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Explore the different research and tools developed by organizations and companies showing the return on investment of workplace health and well-being programs. 

Return on Investment

This business case details cost packages, programs, and interventions that the apparel sector can implement to improve the health and well-being of their female supply chain workers in India. Last updated on July 9, 2020.

United Nations Foundation

This business case details cost packages, programs, and interventions that the agriculture sector can implement to improve the health and well-being of their female supply chain workers in Kenya. Last updated on May 13, 2020.

United Nations Foundation

This evaluation looks at the impact of Walmart's Women in Factories program by examining key performance indicators (KPI's) such as absenteeism, production efficiency, and turnover. 

Tufts University Labor Lab

Good Business Lab's evaluation of the P.A.C.E program - which trains female garment workers in soft skills and life skills such as reproductive health and financial awareness - shows that investing in the life skills of female garment workers delivers measurable ROI to businesses.

Good Business Lab

This report summarizes findings from program evaluations conducted by ICRW at six separate factory sites where P.A.C.E. is implemented. The report concluded that the P.A.C.E program yielded high returns for women, their families and the businesses where they work.

International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

The chapter "A New Approach to the Well-Being of Factory Workers in Global Supply Chains" examines the success of a comprehensive worker survey to monitor the well-being of supply chain workers in factories.

Harvard SHINE Initative

This report presents an analysis of 47 reports on initiatives describing women’s health in the workplace and how such initiatives and their return on investments are measured.

Danish Family Planning Association

This self-assessment scoring tool for suppliers helps assess their adherence to existing laws and policies on worker health and well-being, including physical health, intellectual health, emotional health, social health, spiritual health, and enviornmental health.

SNV Netherlands and Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies

This business case details cost packages, programs, and interventions that the apparel sector can implement to improve the health and well-being of their female supply chain workers in Kenya. Last updated on May 13, 2020.

United Nations Foundation

Read a summary from the Workplace Women's Health and Empowerment Regional Meeting in India that focused on the apparel sector and how companies can drive change on the health and well-being of their female workers in global supply chains.

United Nations Foundation

This report evaluates the workplace women's health program HERhealth and determines that it results in a 4:1 return on investment to companies.

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Levi Strauss Foundation

This initiative aims to reach 60,000 women who work in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers, partnering with NGOs like Swasti, Business for Social Responsibility, and CARE. The return on investment is referred to as "value" on investment to emphasize the need to measure not just cost savings, but other elements that contribute to worker satisfaction, employee well-being and business performance. 


This report examines the business case for corporate involvement in community health and well-being, showing that community health has the potential to significantly reduce employee health costs and yields a significant return on investment.

Impact ROI

This report discusses USAID's Extending Service Delivery (ESD) program, a five-year reproductive health and family planning project that was used to conduct a study evaluating the return on investment of providing health services at a garment factory site in Bangladesh.


This powerpoint presentation explains the WWHE Global Trade Supplier Finance Program (GTSF), an IFC initiative for improving global supply chain sustainability and competitiveness.

International Finance Corporation

Other Resources

This article outlines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on female garment workers in supply chains across the world and the need to take action to meet their unique health and economic needs.

Fashion Revolution

This report attempts to estimate the size of the economic potential from achieving gender parity to mapping gender inequality. They use 15 indicators of gender equality in 95 countries and discuss the development of their Gender Parity Score (GPS) that gives a view of what will help to close the gender gap.

McKinsey Global Institute

This article provides new evidence on consumer demand for ethical products from experiments conducted in a U.S. grocery store chain. It determines that although consumers attach value to ethical sourcing, there is significant multiplicity in willingness to pay for it.

Review of Economics and Statistics

This article describes how many companies, including several in the apparel sector, have already begun empowering workers in their supply chains through programs that provide access to reproductive health information and services.

United Nations Foundation

This report discusses Levi Strauss' Worker Well-being program that aims to to raise the living standards of workers through partnerships with strategic vendors. The program asks that vendors communicate with workers, identify local challenges, develop and implement appropriate worker programs and forge partnerships to generate and sustain lasting impacts.

Levi Strauss and Co.

This report discusses setting business strategy and transforming markets in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Business and Sustainable Development Commission

This fact sheet states key statistics on employment in the garment industry, gender, and worth of the garment industry.

Clean Clothes Campaign

This guidebook helps organizations and companies determine how their factories can actively manage their health operations, such as what indicators apply, what action steps to take, and what resources are available for health improvements.

Levi Strauss Foundation

The program aims to train  60,000 women around the world over five years. It teaches factory workers critical life skills in communication, hygiene, reproductive health, and occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity.



Photo: BSR

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