This past year, 16.1 million women migrated from China’s agrarian heartland to urban megacities in search of decent work. They’re looking to benefit from China’s economic boom, particularly in a manufacturing sector growing by 28 percent each year. Inequitable educational and employment practices, however, limit their opportunities. For example, women earn nearly 44 percent less than men, placing China 87th in global gender pay parity, according to the World Economic Forum. For women in the manufacturing sector, these discriminatory practices make it difficult to gain the training needed to advance their careers.
BSR has found that empowering a factory’s workforce, especially its women, with relevant knowledge and skills can improve internal capabilities, workplace satisfaction, production rates, turnover, and profitability. Through BSR’s HERproject, as well as partnerships with Diageo, UN Women, the China National Textile and Apparel Council, Qualcomm, and many other partners, BSR has worked for nearly a decade to advance China’s manufacturing sector by empowering its female workers.
Over the past 18 months, BSR and the Walmart Foundation have partnered to deliver more than 330,500 hours of workplace training to more than 22,000 workers across 36 factories through the Women in Factories China program. This addition to our suite of China-based women’s empowerment work aims to foster an inclusive economy with access to good jobs that enable strong livelihoods.
While statistics tell one side of the story, BSR’s newest working paper, “Women in Factories China: Creating Good Jobs and Building an Inclusive Economy” highlights the human side of this work, presenting vignettes from individual workers who participated in the program. The paper highlights the program’s effect on workers’ self-respect, well-being, understanding of diversity, and career mobility.
To accompany the report, we have also produced a short video that highlights BSR’s work empowering women in China.