Making The Workplace Work For Women: How To Stand Up For Women's Rights And Health

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The conventional wisdom of winning in business calls for getting to market at the right time and with the most durable supply chain. It insists you need the most talented and motivated workers. But what if the workers you rely on are challenged by limited health information and services, and subject to gender-based violence or pay inequity? How can companies ensure effective operations and support their workers, too?

For many, the answer is workplace programs that provide information and training on health and empowerment topics, including family planning, reproductive health and nutrition. These programs can lead to reduced turnover, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity and morale. In short, providing women with the information and services they need to be healthy and plan their futures is a win for women and a win for business.

While governments and civil society groups have long been involved in women’s health, businesses have a growing opportunity to make a positive difference. Women around the world are entering the workforce at unprecedented rates, especially in developing countries. Almost 200 million women work in jobs related to global supply chains. In sectors like garment manufacturing, flower farming, and coffee, cocoa and tea production, women make up between 50% and 80% of the workforce.

Yet, in these same countries -- and in every country -- women face challenges to equality on multiple fronts: gender-based violence, wage disparity and limited access to essential health information and services, to name a few. These injustices don't just hurt women, but also businesses, as women often have to miss work or leave their jobs.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With women’s role in the workforce growing, companies have an unprecedented opportunity to provide health and empowerment information and services, which can help women live healthy lives and help companies generate business returns.

In Kenya, for example, garment manufacturer Hela -- which supplies to major brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Wrangler -- provides a variety of services for its workforce, which is 75% women. Employees have access to free on-site daycare, a health clinic staffed by a nurse midwife and routine mobile services from Marie Stopes Kenya, including cervical cancer screenings, contraception, blood pressure screenings, HIV/AIDS testing and awareness, and nutrition education.

Across the globe, millions of women play a crucial role in creating many of the goods and products that have become part of our daily routines in the U.S. and beyond. At the same time, their employers are part of a growing movement in the private sector to prioritize women’s health and rights in the workplace and reap the benefits of the so-called “triple bottom line” -- a business model that focuses not only on financial returns but also on social and environmental impact.

By empowering women workers, companies can build healthier and more productive workforces that also meet consumer demands for ethically made products. And they’ll be in good company -- in addition to Hela, other global garment and apparel manufacturers and buyers such as Nordstrom, Inditex, Lindex, Shahi (India’s largest apparel manufacturer), MAS Holdings (South Asia’s largest apparel manufacturer), Share Hope and Ethical Apparel Africa, alongside global tea producer Twinings and consumer goods company Unilever, are all making public, measurable commitments during the 2019 Women Deliver conference to improve the health and empowerment of women in their global supply chains. The UN Foundation is taking part in these efforts through our Universal Access Project, which is designed to empower girls and women to plan their families and their futures.

Other companies that employ women in large supply chains can step up and join this movement by investing in workplace health and well-being programs that provide fundamental information, training and services. Nonprofits also have an important role to play by sharing their expertise in women’s health and empowerment with the private sector. Together, we can make sure women get the services they need to be healthy and thrive in the workforce.

Supporting the basic needs of women in the workforce isn’t just good for the economy; it’s essential to achieving gender equality and the promise to leave no one behind. The win-win is within our reach: It’s time to make workplaces work for women.

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The conventional wisdom of winning in business calls for getting to market at the right time and with the most durable supply chain. It insists you need the most talented and motivated workers. But what if the workers you rely on are challenged by limited health information and services, and subject to gender-based violence or pay inequity? How can companies ensure effective operations and support their workers, too?

For many, the answer is workplace programs that provide information and training on health and empowerment topics, including family planning, reproductive health and nutrition. These programs can lead to reduced turnover, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity and morale. In short, providing women with the information and services they need to be healthy and plan their futures is a win for women and a win for business.

While governments and civil society groups have long been involved in women’s health, businesses have a growing opportunity to make a positive difference. Women around the world are entering the workforce at unprecedented rates, especially in developing countries. Almost 200 million women work in jobs related to global supply chains. In sectors like garment manufacturing, flower farming, and coffee, cocoa and tea production, women make up between 50% and 80% of the workforce.

Yet, in these same countries -- and in every country -- women face challenges to equality on multiple fronts: gender-based violence, wage disparity and limited access to essential health information and services, to name a few. These injustices don't just hurt women, but also businesses, as women often have to miss work or leave their jobs.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With women’s role in the workforce growing, companies have an unprecedented opportunity to provide health and empowerment information and services, which can help women live healthy lives and help companies generate business returns.

In Kenya, for example, garment manufacturer Hela -- which supplies to major brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Wrangler -- provides a variety of services for its workforce, which is 75% women. Employees have access to free on-site daycare, a health clinic staffed by a nurse midwife and routine mobile services from Marie Stopes Kenya, including cervical cancer screenings, contraception, blood pressure screenings, HIV/AIDS testing and awareness, and nutrition education.

Across the globe, millions of women play a crucial role in creating many of the goods and products that have become part of our daily routines in the U.S. and beyond. At the same time, their employers are part of a growing movement in the private sector to prioritize women’s health and rights in the workplace and reap the benefits of the so-called “triple bottom line” -- a business model that focuses not only on financial returns but also on social and environmental impact.

By empowering women workers, companies can build healthier and more productive workforces that also meet consumer demands for ethically made products. And they’ll be in good company -- in addition to Hela, other global garment and apparel manufacturers and buyers such as Nordstrom, Inditex, Lindex, Shahi (India’s largest apparel manufacturer), MAS Holdings (South Asia’s largest apparel manufacturer), Share Hope and Ethical Apparel Africa, alongside global tea producer Twinings and consumer goods company Unilever, are all making public, measurable commitments during the 2019 Women Deliver conference to improve the health and empowerment of women in their global supply chains. The UN Foundation is taking part in these efforts through our Universal Access Project, which is designed to empower girls and women to plan their families and their futures.

Other companies that employ women in large supply chains can step up and join this movement by investing in workplace health and well-being programs that provide fundamental information, training and services. Nonprofits also have an important role to play by sharing their expertise in women’s health and empowerment with the private sector. Together, we can make sure women get the services they need to be healthy and thrive in the workforce.

Supporting the basic needs of women in the workforce isn’t just good for the economy; it’s essential to achieving gender equality and the promise to leave no one behind. The win-win is within our reach: It’s time to make workplaces work for women.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2019/06/06/making-the-workplace-work-for-women-how-to-stand-up-for-womens-rights-and-health/

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