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Artistic Milliners to Pilot Program in Support of Women Garment Workers

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A denim manufacturer with a “champion of women” at its helm, Artistic Milliners is creating ways to provide support for its female employees. The Pakistan-based denim mill announced a new collaboration with fashion brand partner Bestseller, the family-owned fashion group that owns Jack & Jones, Mamalicious and Vero Moda brands,  and U.K. government program Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW).

Together, the companies will roll out HERessentials, a pilot program from global nonprofit BSR, the organization behind HERproject, a collaborative initiative that strives to empower low-income women working in global supply chains. Bestseller, along with denim heavyweights like Levi Strauss & Co., Kontoor Brands  and American Eagle Outfitters, is a core supporter.

Artistic Milliners previously worked with BSR to offer HERhealth, which provides health-related knowledge and access to health services and products to female employees.

“Our women workers on the factory floors are the most hardworking, and deserve a safe work environment as well as opportunities to progress,” said Murtaza Ahmed, managing director at Artistic Milliners. “HERessentials is one of a kind in terms of its adaptability to changing times. With the right implementation, [it] has the potential [to] change [the] lives of many marginalized women in Pakistan.”

The HERessentials pilot program helps women within Artistic Milliners’ factories develop “adaptive capacity,” which refers to the social and technical skills needed to respond to environmental and socioeconomic changes. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an increasing need for Pakistani women—many of whom lack access to education—to learn technological and life skills.

Using a tablet, Artistic Milliners’ women managers and workers can access the program’s resources, which include training on stress management, communication, health and finances. According to Andrei Vasilev, Bestseller’s social impact manager, garment workers need support now more than ever.

“With a growing value chain transparency, we feel the need to contribute directly to the success of female factory workers,” he said. “Our long-term vision is to make HERessentials training available to all vulnerable groups of women workers in Pakistan.”

Though initially, select women workers will have access to HERessentials training, after a successful pilot phase, it will be rolled out to all female factory workers at Artistic Milliners. In the second phase, the program will become available for other manufacturing facilities and will eventually open to all marginalized female workers in a free, online training module.

HERessentials will launched with the help of a local Pakistan-based implementing partner, with funding made available through WOW.