Women’s empowerment

Our Challenge

Women represent approximately 60 per cent of workers in Target Australia’s supplier factory workforce. Yet some female workers don’t have access to the basic services they need to ensure health and wellbeing, and the skills training and opportunities to support their professional development. This is particularly true in countries, such as Bangladesh and India, where we source approximately 50% of our apparel, and where female workers often enter the garment industry without completing formal education and where employment in management roles remain dominated by males. These factors, combined with low wages and more limited social services in these countries, makes gender equality and women’s empowerment a priority human rights focus for our business.

Our Approach

We believe all women deserve the opportunity to have a voice and reach their full potential, both in their work-life and home-life. That’s why Target, have committed to support health, education or professional skills training to at least 100,000 women in our supply chain by 2025.

To achieve this, we have partnered with BSR HER project, which is a collaborative initiative to empower low-income women working in global supply chain. Bringing together international companies, suppliers, and local NGOs. HER Project drives impact for women and businesses via workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality.

We currently support two BSR HER programs in-line with our commitment: HER Heath and HERessentials.

HER Health aims to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for female factory workers by:

  • Raising awareness on critical health topics such as healthy eating, personal and menstrual hygiene, and maternal health
  • Grievance mechanism/worker hotline
  • Improving health-related behaviors such as disease testing, seeking out preventative care, and conducting breast self-examinations
  • Addressing common myths and misconceptions around potentially harmful health practices and beliefs
  • Building confidence and communication skills around discussing important health issues at work and at home
  • The HER Health program is conducted in-person by experience facilitations and peer-to-peer learning, and is 12-18 months in duration.

    We are also supporting the HERessentials Program, which is designed to help women, who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic and social consequences of COVID-19. HERessentials is an app which provides critical information to vulnerable female and male workers and managers in global supply chains during times of crisis, including information on health, financial resilience, and tools for building harmonious relationships and handling stress. It’s also designed to increase workers’ digital and tech literacy and heighten resilience in an increasingly technological world of work. The app puts technology in the hands of low-income women with low tech skills, and at the same time empowers suppliers to take ownership of worker training on essential topics. The Her Essentials program takes 5-6 months to complete.

    Based on needs analysis and the strength of existing social welfare systems, Target have prioritised implementation of the HER Health and Essentials programs with suppliers located in the following countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. These countries also tend to have factories with large numbers of female workers, which enables us to scale our impact faster.

    Our progress

    As of March 2023, there were 83,875 women workers enrolled in different HER Programs across 41 Kmart and Target supplier factories in Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. Of these women workers, 39,255 women workers have completed her programs.

    Although it’s early days and we are yet to complete a comprehensive impact assessment of these programs, the early signs are encouraging. An assessment of the HER Essentials program has reported that it builds confidence of women and illiterate workers in using technology, supports explanation of sensitive topics (e.g. reproductive health), and provides a channel for informal feedback amongst workers.

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