Bangladesh is the world's second largest exporter of garments and textiles. Of the four million people employed in the country’s textile industry, around 80 per cent are women. Most are employed as workers in the low wage segment and are granted few rights. Women have very little representation in middle and higher-level management positions of textile companies. For some years now, there has been growing demand for textile factories in producer countries to comply with the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and improve working conditions for women workers. But companies like Lindex which are keen to meet these demands face the problem that many Bangladeshi factories are unable to implement these standards. Gender aspects generally play a very minor role in most companies. Women lack not only counselling and support services but also contact structures.
Between 2017 and 2021, the project partners invested a total budget of EUR 430,000 to implement the following activities:
- Support for the management of 36 textile companies (including 27 Lindex supplier factories) to incorporate gender aspects into corporate strategy and practice, including through the drafting of relevant action plans.
- Increased emphasis on gender aspects in the scorecards used by Lindex to evaluate suppliers in terms of their social and environmental standards. These scorecards also play a part in determining the size of order volumes.
- Development of a toolbox with assessment criteria and guidelines on integrating gender aspects into the management systems of supply chains.
- Support for the 36 supplier companies with using the toolbox.
- Dissemination of gender approaches to sector and employer associations, trade unions and the Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce.
- Establishment of a café where women can seek advice and participate in educational programmes.
Lindex updated its supply chain management, advised its suppliers and developed the toolbox. GIZ’s activities included training for multipliers on gender aspects and disseminating the project approach across the Bangladeshi textile sector.
The cooperation not only enabled us to benefit from GIZ’s country-specific know-how and network, but also from its experience in gender equality. These benefits have been indispensable in strengthening our supply chain.
All 27 Lindex suppliers have incorporated gender considerations and the empowerment of women into HR management, and have developed and begun to implement gender action plans. As a result, Lindex now has a model for empowering women in textile factories, is scaling this up within its own supply chain in Asia and rolling it out across the textile sector in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the project has successfully involved nine other factories.
As part of the project, Lindex launched the 'WE Women by Lindex' initiative, through which the company advocates for increased rights for women in the textile sector in Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. The programme is a central component of the group's sustainability strategy and a response to growing social awareness among European customers. This makes the move to strengthen women’s rights a competitive factor.
develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.