The Walmart Foundation in partnership with global humanitarian organization CARE has launched an initiative to provide female factory workers in Bangladesh's apparel sector with the workplace skills and literacy training they need to improve their standard of living and work environments in a long-term, sustainable way.
Factories in Bangladesh employ mostly women between the ages of 20 and 29 years old who have left their rural villages in search of better livelihoods. Although the world's women make up 70 percent of the one billion people living on less than a dollar a day, work two-thirds of the working hours, and produce half of the world's food, they earn only 10 percent of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of its property.
As part of the initiative, selected factories in Bangladesh will host learning centers that provide education and awareness sessions related to maternal and child health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices, and other issues of concern to female workers. The learning centers also will offer classes in reading, writing, and math as well as training programs focused on design, sewing, equipment handling, and other relevant technical skills.
The initiative is the second in a series of programs funded by a $1 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to CARE to provide education, job-training, and entrepreneurial support to impoverished young women in Peru, Bangladesh, and India. To be implemented first in Dhaka, which has the largest number of garment factories and factory workers in Bangladesh, the initiative is expected to involve some 2,500 women and have a positive impact on an additional 12,500 to 15,000 individuals.
"Just last week I was in Bangladesh and had the opportunity to see firsthand the contributions of these hardworking female factory workers in their communities," said Walmart International president and CEO Doug McMillon. "At Walmart, we aim to not only improve the lives of our customers and associates, but also to improve the lives of women that work to provide many of the products we carry in our stores around the world. I am confident this program will make a difference in the lives of female factory workers and their families in Bangladesh."