A majority of workers we have in our factory are women. Women in our factory occupy about 75% of jobs in our processing and packing units. Most of the women have been hired from communities that live close to the factory. We have put various strategies in place that enhance working conditions and opportunities for them.
The alternative to paid factory work for most women living in rural areas is unpaid family, agriculture or domestic work; which does little to nothing to empower the women and uplift their families. Employing women and giving them the best working conditions, in our opinion, has a domino effect; by guaranteeing a better life not just to them but their families as well. An increase in female labor force participation results in faster economic growth. It leads to more investment in children’s health, education and the total household income. A study using data from 219 countries between 1970-2009 found that, for every one additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreased by 9.5%. Evidence from a range of countries also shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, through their own earnings changes spending in ways that benefit children. This empowerment more often than not, trickles down from the woman to her girl child.
Providing training, healthcare facilities and continuous health and hygiene training around food has an impact beyond the factory walls. According to UNICEF, in Tanzania, about 1/3rd of deaths in children under-five years are related to poor hygiene. This includes nearly 20% of under-five deaths due to preventable diarrhea totaling nearly five children every hour. Speaking to some of the women in our factory, we have realized that the training women workers on hygiene w.r.t food, water, the factory environment & the dangers of bacteria if allowed, this training is taken back home with them. They carry their training home & take more care of the hygiene at home as well. Small habits like hand washing alone can reduce disease transmission by 47%.
Small additions to the factory environment such as safe transportation in and out of the factory, safe and nutritious food, clean rooms for women that work late shifts, continuous training, community development programs and providing recreational areas has seen us through phenomenal yield improvements in our factory. It is well documented that working conditions across industries are in much need of improvement, specially in developing countries. There is a huge development and business opportunity that can be accomplished by investing in good positions for women within the factory and by providing them with the support they need to realize their full potential in the workplace. When you change the life of a women you change the life of the entire community. We have seen it happen with the women in our factory. So can you!