The programme work with businesses that have supply chains in the poorest countries to tackle issues like discrimination and violence in the workplace ©123RF
The programme work with businesses that have supply chains in the poorest countries to tackle issues like discrimination and violence in the workplace ©123RF

Empowering 300,000 women through supply chains

12 October 2016

The UK government hopes to improve the employment opportunities of 300,000 women by reaching them through UK supply chains, it has announced.

Through the Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme, the government said it will work with UK and international businesses to help women in “the poorest countries” into higher skilled and better paid jobs.

The government said it would spend £12.8m on the programme over the next five years.

“The programme will see the UK working with businesses… which have supply chains in the poorest countries, to tackle important issues like discrimination and violence in the workplace,” a statement from the Department for International Development (DFID) said.

DFID did not go into detail about how the programme would work, but gave the example of working with clothing companies to incentivise factories to promote women into more senior roles.

It also said the programme would improve data on where women are working in supply chains that would help to identify barriers to employment. “Businesses need these statistics to help women into better jobs with better pay as better data can help track results and progress,” it said.

International development secretary Priti Patel said: “Around the world women are held back, hidden away and discriminated against. It’s a tragic waste of human potential.

“That’s why a global Britain is driving real change by working with the private sector to ensure there are better job opportunities and improved working conditions for the world’s poorest and most marginalised women,”

The report, Leave no one behind: a call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, identified seven systematic changes countries could make to improve women’s economic position:

  • Tackling adverse norms and promoting female role models
  • Ensuring legal protection and reforming discriminatory laws
  • Recognising and reducing unpaid work
  • Improving women’s access to digital, financial and property assets
  • Changing business culture and practices
  • Improving public sector practices in employment and procurement
  • Strengthening visibility and representation of women

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