Primark is working with the Department for International Development (DFID) to improve working conditions for garment workers in developing markets.
The fashion retailer is partnering with the UK department, which works to end extreme poverty, to combine their networks and expertise. The partnership aims to develop a programme to improve the health and wellbeing of local workers, bolster national economic development and help alleviate poverty in five of Primark’s key markets which DFID also works in: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma, Ethiopia and India.
Primark said that a large part of the programme would focus on supporting the empowerment of women working in the developing world, and would tackle issues such as health, housing, gender equality, career progression and vocational and life skills.
Primark and DFID will also identify opportunities to help create ethical and sustainable garment sectors in existing and new sourcing markets such as Burma and East Africa. The partnership will also look at disaster response and will share lessons from the response to the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, including Primark’s work with local partners in Bangladesh to provide short-term and long-term support to the victims and their families.
Primark said that the fashion and textile industries were the second largest employer in developing markets after agriculture and employed many female workers, and that providing women with education and training drove positive benefits for their families and wider communities.
The retailer said that it was committed to ensuring that the people who made its products were treated fairly and that it had more than 60 people working for its Ethical Trade Team across the supply chain.
“We know that as well as ensuring worker rights are protected within the factories we work with, we can positively impact lives outside of the factory too,” said Paul Lister, responsible for Primark’s Ethical Trading Team. “Whether it’s financial literacy, health education or helping workers understand their rights, we’ve seen that simple initiatives with local partners can make a huge difference.”
DFID is working to improve the lives of girls and women in every area of its international development work, from education to maternal and child health, from personal safety and security to economic and political empowerment.
“Our new partnership with DFID recognises the strength and depth of the work we have been doing across our supply chain,” said Lister. “But, most importantly, it will help us use our expertise and resources already on the ground, to accelerate the impact of our programmes. In doing so, we are confident we will be able to make an even bigger difference.”