FWF Artwork Focus Group Project report 2014

FWF Artwork focus group project report

In 2011, Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), a Netherlands-based independent, non-profit organisation committed to improving labour conditions for garment workers, launched a project in Bangladesh and India entitled ‘Preventing Workplace Violence’ with the support of a three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund. FWF, which seeks to improve the labour conditions of garment workers, is active in 9 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa that produce garments for its 80 member companies. Altogether, FWF members represent more than 100 brands sold in over 20,000 outlets around the world.

The Artwork Focus Discussion Groups were developed to further these goals and monitor the impact of the programme. This publication has its origins in this project, but it does not focus exclusively on violence and sexual harassment. This is because the issue of violence against women at work cannot be separated from the larger framework of labour rights issues and economic pressures.

To measure garment workers’ job satisfaction and assess the impact of its project, FWF devised an innovative methodology, which involves artwork and focus group discussions to encourage workers to talk about themselves. The drawings produced by the female workers and their descriptions of their daily lives, their family background, their work, their likes and dislikes do more than reflect the garment labourers’ perceptions of their working conditions.

The women’s stories also offer a fascinating insight into the lives of female garment workers in Bangladesh, revealing the social circumstances that push them to leave their rural villages to seek work in big cities, some of the challenges that confront them, but also the sense of empowerment that many workers gain from paid employment. Although by no means comprehensive, this study provides valuable information about the status of women producing garments in India and Bangladesh and their social and economic environment.

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