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It was an honor to share our experiences on incorporating gender equality principles in business operations at the panel on ‘Gender Guidance for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: From Paper to Practice’ at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, the world’s largest global gathering on business and human rights, held annually.
We love sharing our work and learnings with industry and other important stakeholders. This post is an ongoing compilation of conferences and events we’ve spoken at in 2019.
Menstrual hygiene management is core to women’s health, self-confidence and ability to work. With Project “Pravah”, Shahi is providing menstrual health and hygiene training and awareness and easy access to low-cost, high-quality sanitary products to its women employees. This blog post is written from the experience of the OD field team that designed the project.
India’s Female Labor Force Participation has fallen from 36.7% in 2005 to 26% in 2018. The apparel industry, as a majority female employer, holds the power to break some of the barriers women face to enter the formal workforce. Read our blog post to understand how Shahi’s skilling efforts are enabling more women to join the formal workforce.
By Gauri Sharma and Sakshi Katyal
Women Deliver is the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women. It’s in some ways an unlikely event for an apparel business to attend, let alone be invited to speak. However, in a country where the number of women in the workforce is dropping rapidly (from 34% to 24% in the last decade), our industry is a crucial source of economic empowerment for low-skilled women as well as an advocate for advancing women’s participation in work outside the home.
Just over a year ago, a serious incident took place at one of our 65 factories, Unit 8, where unionized workers were attacked by non-unionized workers resulting in a violent exchange. It was widely covered in the media at the time and created truly regrettable reputational damage for our buyers. The incident and the behaviors that led to it are absolutely condemned by Shahi and go against our robust policies on freedom of association and anti-harassment. We take our responsibilities to our employees very seriously and have been leaders within the apparel sector in building a positive and supportive work culture. However, this incident is evidence that, despite many positive policies and initiatives, we have more work to do to protect the rights of all 100,000 of our workforce.
Our industry is reliant on female labor. At Shahi we employ more than 70,000 talented and capable women across our factories and corporate HQ, making us one of the biggest private employers of women in India. As we prepare to attend Women Deliver 2019, the world’s largest conference on gender equality next month, we’ve been reflecting on what we’re doing to support women so we can set some objectives for the future.
India has the largest number of anemic women in the world, with more than half (51%) of all women of reproductive age being anemic. This has been attributed to multiple factors ranging from poor nutrition and repeated childbearing, to high incidence of infections. Apart from affecting mobility, mental health, and causing pain and discomfort, anemia can also result in significant productivity losses. Read this update to understand our commitment to women’ s health.
In 2007, Shahi was the first company to pilot Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.), a proprietary life-skills program by Gap Inc. We were also the first Gap Inc. supplier to be awarded the license to scale up P.A.C.E. by training women beyond our factories.
A commentary piece in the Economics Times by Arvind Panagariya, former Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank and previous vice-chairman of the Government of India think-tank NITI Aayog, has highlighted the cost-efficiency of job creation in the apparel sector versus other industries. Comparing Shahi with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) – a large conglomerate with operations in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications – he found that Shahi creates 252 times the number of jobs of RIL with a similar amount of assets. The findings lead to a conclusion that we have been committed to for many years: the apparel sector is a powerful opportunity to create high quality, formal employment, especially for India’s dwindling female workforce.