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Pioneering BSR Group Offers Simple Solutions to Improve Factory Women's Health

Submitted by: BSR

Categories: Human Rights, Health & Wellness

Posted: Jul 22, 2008 – 11:59 PM EST


HERproject Outlines Key Actions for Global Companies, Factories and NGOs

Jul. 22 /CSRwire/ - SAN FRANCISCO - July 23, 2008 - By connecting companies, factories and NGOs, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has developed a list of simple solutions these actors can take to help factory women around the world improve their health and access to health services. The benefit to business is clear: With increased health knowledge, employees are more productive, have greater morale and miss fewer days of work.

For example, in a recent BSR-sponsored focus group in Pakistan, female factory workers spoke candidly about their most pressing health needs - and the results were surprising: Many women confessed that they were skipping up to three days of work every month due to pain, infections and embarrassment during their menstrual cycles.

The problem? The women lacked access to sanitary napkins as well as basic knowledge about proper hygiene during menstruation. As it turns out, simple health concepts such as the use of sanitary napkins, which many women in the developed world take for granted, can go a long way toward improving the health of women in developing countries.

These findings are part of BSR's HERproject, an initiative that provides health training and services to female factory workers in China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam. Launched in 2007 in China, HERproject connects multinational brands and their suppliers with health educators who train women in factories to act as "health ambassadors" - teaching their peers about reproductive health, maternal health nutrition, disease prevention and how to access health services. According to one study that looked at the model upon which HERproject is based, factories reaped a return of $3 for every $1 invested in women's health training and services.

At a June strategy session in Vietnam, BSR brought together more than 60 leaders from organizations and companies such as CARE Cambodia, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the International Finance Corporation, Levi Strauss & Co., Marie Stopes International, Nike, Timberland, Wal-Mart and the Walt Disney Company. At that landmark gathering, BSR identified the following steps that companies, factories and NGOs can take to improve women's health in the workplace:

  • Seek understanding and alignment of stakeholders' differing objectives. Due to different demands, factory managers and NGOs implementing workplace health programs sometimes conflict. For example, factories with high production demands may want to hold health trainings after work hours, while NGO staff may face safety - or work-related limitations for after-hours sessions. To ensure that all needs are met and a compromise is reached, BSR is working as a facilitator between these groups.

  • Establish strong partnerships. To work together effectively, factories and NGOs must build trust in each other, which often requires a long-term relationship, with projects extending longer than one year.

  • Address cultural challenges on a local level. Every country and each factory have unique challenges that require customized solutions. Companies should work with local NGOs and factory managers to better understand the needs of the workers.

  • Improve access to basic health services. To improve the impact of health education, the second phase of HERproject will work with NGO partners and factories to improve existing factory health clinics and educate workers about health services elsewhere when clinics aren't available at their factories.

    Simple solutions such as these reinforce the successful model of HERproject. "By engaging the stakeholders in this issue - including global brands, foundations, factories and the workers themselves - BSR is proud to create solutions that benefit women and the businesses they work for," said Chad Bolick, BSR's Director, CSR Strategy.
    For more information about HERproject, visit www.herproject.org, or email getinvolved@herproject.org.

    About BSR

    Since 1992, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has been providing socially responsible business solutions to many of the world's leading corporations. Headquartered in San Francisco and with offices in New York, Paris, Guangzhou, Beijing and Hong Kong, BSR is a nonprofit business association that serves its 250 member companies and other Global 1000 enterprises. Through advisory services, convenings and research, BSR works with corporations and concerned stakeholders of all types to create a more just and sustainable global economy. For more information, visit www.bsr.org.

  • For more information, please contact:

    Amon Rappaport Business for Social Responsibility
    Phone: 415-984-3254
    Website: www.bsr.org


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