BSR launches “HER project”
With the Hawassa Industrial Park becoming an icon for Ethiopia’s progress to one of the continent’s fastest growing economies, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a global nonprofit organization that works for a just and sustainable world, has launched “HER project” to help put women in the forefront of the success of Ethiopia’s industrial sector. The Hawassa Park was accorded a visit by Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afeworki, recently.
The new initiative is to help women find their footing in their needs, including health, financial inclusion and gender equality by incorporating management, supervisors and workers in finding a uniform solution to their pressing day to day problems. It intends to use a strategy of leadership from the ground-up.
This new initiative is intent on a notion that profit oriented companies exploit adolescent girls instead of help advance their opportunities and not just help change the narrative of the nation. Active in a dozen nations, with a network of more than 250 member companies including many multinationals, HER project estimates it has so far impacted the lives of 800,000 people at more than a dozen nations.
At its launch, it was announced that the initiative is to “tackle health and gender needs that have been identified in the park by empowering women workers and looking at their health needs by sourcing a bond between buyers and suppliers”.
Funded by The Children’s Place and PVH Corps, HER project so far has 8 confirmed factories enrolled at the Hawassa sight, which represent 7400 women workers. The company was founded in 2007 in the midst of South Asian nations that were put on the spotlight for allegations of exploitation of their employees that was widespread before some moved to the African continent, including in Ethiopia.
HER estimates 68 percent of the garment workforce, 45 percent of the textile sector workforce and up-to 70 percent of the horticulture workforce are women globally.