Happy International Day of Families! This year’s observance focuses on ‘Families and Inclusive Societies’. Families take many forms but no matter what they look like, they can be impacted by a variety of social and economic challenges. Parent workers around the world carry the hope that their hard work will provide a brighter future for their children and offer them greater societal access. However, just having work is not enough to ensure the protection of a worker’s family life. Workplaces must take into account special challenges faced by working parents, especially women.
A dignified working environment values not only the conditions inside the workplace but also the way in which work impacts a person’s home life. For example, women working in the garment industry face significant challenges such as long working hours, little to no maternity leave or pay, lack of access to childcare and unsafe working conditions, particularly for pregnant women, all of which can greatly affect the health and safety of the whole family.
According to gender expert Jo Morris, long working hours such as those caused by brands increasing their orders at the last minute can have serious social consequences. Overtime or late evening work is difficult for workers who are carers’ and may lead to a lack of parental care and supervision of children and adolescents, increased school absences, poor nutrition and child health. Sourcing managers need to consider the human impact of their last minute orders or unrealistic targets, especially on the family life.
FWF is working to protect families through ensuring that our members uphold FWF’s eight labour standards. In-depth factory audits are conducted to monitor how FWF member companies oversee their supply chain and how well factories comply with the labour standards. This leads to workplace improvements in the 2,755 factories employing 868,000 workers, with the impact going well beyond the workers to their family members.
The garment industry as a whole will benefit from investing in skills training for its female workers. FWF in India has piloted a Line Supervisor Training programme to develop women workers with the potential for promotion to become effective supervisors.
Parent workers often make great sacrifices to provide for their families. We can support families around the world by advocating for the rights of workers by promoting a safe working environment for pregnant women, access to maternity leave and pay, as well as access to childcare. Peaceful and inclusive societies are made up of strong and diverse families, and working conditions—particularly for women—play an important role in sustaining family life.