India - Gap Inc. P.A.C.E (Personal Advancement, Career Enhancement) Program for Women Garment Workers
Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths
In a Nutshell:
Swasti participated in development and is implementing the Gap Inc. PACE program in India. PACE is a capacity building initiative to empower women garment workers and help them realise their potential in professional and personal spheres, leading to enhanced quality of women’s lives, workplace effectiveness and business growth.
The garment sector is a major employer of women from relatively poor socio- economic and education profiles. A large number are first generation formal workers. While women comprise the majority of workers on the production floor, few progress to junior, middle and senior levels of management as they are bogged down by personal responsibilities and problems, and lack time and resources to avail of opportunities for betterment. Their dual burdens in the workplace and at home affect the quality of life for themselves and their families. Conceptualised and funded by Gap Inc., the program is implemented by Swasti in partnership with a local Gap Inc. vendor and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).
Recognising that women’s personal and professional lives are inextricably linked, the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E program is designed as an empowerment program within the private sector, building on best practices from the NGO and corporate worlds and adapting them to the needs of women workers. The initiative is located in the context of gender and socialization—without this deeper understanding of the underlying reasons, it will be difficult to initiate and sustain positive change. This program focuses on the critical first step of empowerment—the recognition of one’s own capacities followed by self-management for positive change. It consists of a set of modules on Communication, Problem Solving and Decision-Making, Time Management, Execution Excellence, Financial Literacy, Women’s Health including Sexual and Reproductive Health, Legal Literacy and Social Entitlements. Gender concepts are integrated into all the modules. Each module begins with a five-hour Sunday session called a mahiti mela (Knowledge fair) followed by weekly 90-minute sessions. The program has demonstrated that focused and needs-based inputs in these areas address critical gaps in women’s knowledge and attitude; inputs of approximately 80 hours per participant conveyed through innovative and learner friendly methodology are triggers for positive change in workplace and home for the women. This empowerment program was implemented in the workplace with contributions of production time from the factory and personal time from the women. This enhanced ownership of the program.
An enabling environment for program implementation was created by orienting key influencers at the workplace (Supervisors and Production Managers) to the program and enlisting their support to encourage participation and subsequent efforts by the women to apply their learnings. Larger groups of workers are also being oriented in order to build a P.A.C.E culture in the organisation. There have been mutual two-way learnings between all partners, which has benefitted the program’s expansion. The program has been evaluated by ICRW. In addition, continuous quality assurance of capacity building initiatives was carried out by Swasti, using a variety of tools—process quality monitoring, piloting and standardisation of modules, learning reflections, case studies and different methods of participant feedback, in a continuous action-reflection-application of the learning cycle. The program has been designed from the start for sustainability and integration into the HR initiatives of the factory. Capacities of regular factory staff have been built so that the program can go to scale. The first phase covered about 500 women workers in two sites (Bangalore and Delhi). It is now being upscaled to cover about 5000 workers in the next phase. Ownership of the program is being transferred to the factory with Swasti moving from direct implementation to capacity building of facilitators, demonstration programs and quality assurance. The factory plans to cover the entire workforce of more than 40,000 workers in the next few years.
Results and Critical Factors:
The ICRW end line report shows overall increase in quantitative indicator indices related to:
- Self esteem: improved self perception of women and understanding about how others perceive them.
- Self efficacy: women have greater confidence and abilities to take decisions related to marriage, education, leisure and contraceptive use.
- Workplace environment: women mentor their peers, feel comfortable talking to their supervisors on work related concerns.
- Workplace efficacy: they are more efficient in terms of quantity of work, and report greater capability to take on new and increased responsibilities.
Supervisors have noted a marked improvement in PACE participants’ output, punctuality, communication, anger management and support towards their peers. Senior management at the two pilot sites have committed resources for upscaling.
Case studies, reports and participant feedback also indicate success of this capacity building initiative.
Scalability and Replication
The program has been effectively piloted in two Gap Inc. vendor sites, coverage is being increased tenfold in the second phase. Based on the India pilot, Gap Inc. has initiated a similar program in Cambodia and plans to expand current women worker programs in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam on the same lines. The Gap Inc. PACE program can serve as a successful model of a women’s empowerment program in corporate workplace. It can be adapted and implemented for women workers in different settings.
“After PACE, my husband consults me on family matters”. “I used to be scared before, now I ask the Supervisor if I have doubts about the work”. – PACE participants
“We put the PACE participants in critical operations in the batch because they are responsible and produce quality work”. - Supervisor
“If work is held up, the PACE women come to my chamber and tell me about it, something they would never do before”. - Production Manager
“It is the same woman, the same factory and the same work, but my wife is a different person after PACE, there are so many positive changes in her”. - Husband of participant
Name of Primary Contact Person: Lavina Cardoza
Title of Primary Contact Person: Programme Manager
City: Bangalore and Faridabad