Women, often between the ages of 18-25, comprise the vast majority of workers making products for export from the developing world to the developed world. Much of this work is performed in environments where access to information about reproductive health, as well as critical services, are lacking. This project is designed to address this need through three steps (1) researching the needs faced by women workers; (2) identifying innovative partnerships between business and civil society to address these needs, and (3) develop information and tools to catalyze greater engagement by the business community on these issues, and replication of effective partnerships between business and civil societies to improve reproductive health globally.
The project is based on research conducted in key countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Vietnam, and the Philippines. This research involves wide dialogue and site visits with multinational companies, local suppliers, female workers, and NGOs. This field work is generating greater understanding of the nature of the need, and useful ways to enhance reproductive health relevant to local conditions. Out of this field work will emerge information and tools to enable multinational companies and their local contractors to help raise awareness of the target workforce population, and support and participate in collaborative efforts to deliver the information and services needed for women to meet critical health care needs.
This project grew out of BSR's substantial work to improve working conditions for the millions of workers making products as part of global trade. While substantial work has been done by BSR and others to address basic labor conditions in global export factories, little of this work sought to address the specific question of women's health. Given that the vast majority of such workers are women aged 18-25, there is a clear and present need to address critical questions related to reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. BSR is very well positioned to reach these goals, based on its nearly 15 years experience building business solutions to pressing global issues, and its unique network of relationships with the business community, and strong track record of building collaboration between business, civil society, and the public sector. BSR, through its collaborative work in more than 60 countries, has also built a strong network of partner organizations on which it can draw for project success.