Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s responsible sourcing teams partnered with BSR’s HERhealth, an initiative within HERproject that empowers low-income women working in global supply chains. Since then, it’s brought healthcare information, critical health services and women’s products to its factory partners in Bangladesh and Kenya.
“In Bangladesh, women comprise more than 65 percent of the garment industry workforce,” said Wesley Gibson, Kontoor Brands’ vice president and managing director, product supply. “That’s why it’s critically important for us to protect and promote women’s rights in the workplace, and engage in projects like HERhealth—a program that educates women on nutrition, hygiene practices, children’s health and family planning.”
HERhealth focuses on raising awareness on critical health topics, promoting preventative healthcare, debunking common myths and increasing women’s access to service providers. The organization notes that its education services have been proven to decrease the number of absences related to health, boost confidence and strengthen employers’ relationships with their employees.
Kontoor joins other denim brands working with the organization to support female garment workers. Both Gap and Levi’s—the latter of which was an early supporter of the initiative—currently offer the program to its factory workers.
Similarly, H&M’s charitable arm recently launched a long-term project to support female garment workers in Bangladesh, first focusing on their immediate needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also plans to bring digital literacy and entrepreneurship opportunities to female garment workers as time goes on.