On Thursday (April 5), Walmart revealed a “Women in Factories” program, a five-year initiative that it says will “empower 60,000 women working in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America.”
The program will teach “critical life skills” related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. Up to 8,000 women will also receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development.
The Bentonville-based retail giant said goals of the initiative include increasing sourcing from women-owned businesses, increasing gender diversity among major suppliers, and making significant philanthropic gifts toward women’s economic empowerment.
“At Walmart, we know that there is perhaps no single issue more essential to the progress of our world than the progress of women,” said Rajan Kamalanathan, vice president of Walmart Ethical Sourcing. “Through this program, women in the supply chain will receive the education and training they need to achieve greater success in their jobs and live a better life.”
The “Women in Factories” initiative will:
• Include a training and education program designed to empower women at work, home and in their communities;
• Teach participating suppliers and factory managers how to permanently sustain and replicate the program; and,
• Be shared with other retailers to potentially implement within their supply chains.
Walmart said the program will be rolled out to 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America over the next five years, initially launching in Bangladesh and India in 2012.
The “Women in Factories” program is part of Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative that Walmart president and CEO, Mike Duke, announced in September 2011.