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Around the world, more than 35 million workers fill garment factories, making clothes that drive an industry valued at some US$1 trillion a year. While factories are a valuable source of jobs and can help improve livelihoods of workers and their families, poor working conditions remain a pressing issue across the industry globally. The work is often poorly paid, with long hours, unsafe conditions and fierce competition among suppliers looking for more profitable relationships with international apparel companies. In order to address this challenge, the Better Work program, a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corp (IFC), has established programs in eight countries to improve working conditions and distribute the benefits of trade to promote human, social and economic development.
The World Bank Group Gender and Jobs teams are launching a new report, INTERWOVEN: How the Better Work Program Improves Jobs and Life Quality in the Apparel Sector. The report reveals that better working conditions and job quality are also associated with better firm performance and greater empowerment of female workers. Findings from the report show that as communication improves, workers and managers are better able to resolve disputes which results in greater productivity at the factories. What’s more, countries in the Better Work program have experienced significant increases in apparel exports—globally, and to the United States in particular. Female workers reported an enhanced capacity to negotiate more equal roles inside their home.
Senior Director, WBG Jobs Cross-Cutting Solutions Area
Lead Economist, WBG Gender Cross-Cutting Solutions Area
Senior Economist, WBG Gender Cross-Cutting Solutions Area
Professor of Economics and Government, Texas A&M University
Mary Porter Peschka
Director, IFC Cross Cutting Advisory Services, Better Work Program
Manager, International Labor Standards, The Walt Disney Company
Lead Economist, WBG South Asia Region