Addressing the general and reproductive health of women in global supply chains

Addressing the general and reproductive health of women in global supply chains

Impact of supply chains on women

Women comprise a majority of the workforce in labor-intensive manufacturing industries such as apparel, footwear, toys, electronics, food processing and house-wares. They also work extensively in the informal sector, including in agriculture and handicrafts. The working environment in these industries can present health hazards to both male and female workers. Women employees, however, risk greater health consequences because they are often of childbearing age and are regarded with less social status than men, causing them to be less educated and more vulnerable. Consequently, they face unique needs in terms of health education, access and nutrition. This report presents the findings of a project to improve awareness of the reproductive and general health needs of women workers in the global supply chain.

The project focused on health programs and practices in four countries – China, India, Indonesia and Mexico. It studied best practices among factory programs and community projects in China, India, Indonesia and Mexico. The factories were largely from the apparel and footwear sectors because of the labor-intensive nature of the production process and the large number of young women employed in these industries. The projects provided education, screening and treatment facilities to women workers and members of communities.

The report is divided into sections by country, using a needs analysis that describes how the projects meet some or all of the following needs as relevant:

  • General Occupational Health – this was included to provide information on the basic health facilities available to women workers and forms the basis for analysis of more specific needs such as reproductive health
  • Family Planning and Reproductive Health
  • Nutrition
  • Access to health
  • Discrimination
  • Self-Esteem (Self-Empowerment)
  • Child Care
  • Harassment
  • General Health Education and Screening
  • Enjoyment of benefits relevant to women’s health
  • Access to qualified medical care
  • Family Health

The country section ends with options in terms of designing and implementing effective reproductive health programs. The final “Resources” section provides information on nongovernmental organizations in each of the four project countries that could be useful sources of information and collaboration on health issues. [authors]

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