Response to COVID-19 in the Cambodia Garment Sector
In the garment industry, more than 250 factories have submitted notice to suspend operations, affecting income and employment for over 150,000 workers. While the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training is negotiating unemployment benefits with the industry body GMAC, the expected payments of $70 per month will pose a tremendous challenge for workers to meet their needs.
In particular, power imbalances are often more serious during emergencies, which exacerbates the existing vulnerabilities of women and girls. Family conflicts occur at a higher rate due to stress and economic difficulties, and alcohol and drug consumption tends to increase as men have more time at home. Therefore, the rate of gender-based violence (GBV) cases also tends to increase during a health emergency, as women and girls must stay home with abusive partners. This proximity to their abusers can also make it more difficult for women to report cases, seek support or use call-in services. Furthermore, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on garment industry workers, with local brands and retailers cancelling orders from their supplier factories, resulting in widespread garment factory closures and sudden economic hardship for workers.
A CARE-led rapid gender analysis (RGA) to identify needs and gender impacts of COVID-19 has already been completed, in Phnom Penh and Kampong Speu province on April 2020 ensuring that CARE’s interventions take into account the needs and capacities of women and girls in the response. As noted, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the operations of garment factories, with local brands and retailers cancelling orders from their supplier factories, resulting in widespread factory closures. It is estimated that about 60% the industry’s largely female workforce will be out of work by June 2020, which translates to 350,000 to 400,000 workers. Workers continue to work face significant health risks and CARE’s analysis indicates that women workers face an increased risk of gender-based violence and barriers in accessing their sexual and reproductive health rights, in addition to the obvious impact of losing their livelihoods.
CARE’s first phase of COVID-19 interventions focuses on raising health and hygiene awareness, supporting laid-off workers and returned migrants in need, and providing alternative education systems through radio programs. CARE is also continuing to support sexual reproductive health and gender based violence services. CARE’s preparedness and response activities utilize pre-existing networks and expertise in the areas in which we are operating. Our pre-existing community footprint as well as strengthened relationships among civil society organization (CSO) partners enables a rapid and scaled up response.
The Female garment workers who are working or suspended adopt COVID-19 preventative behaviors and improve awareness of Sexual Reproductive Health services and Gender Based-Violence risks and services during this Pandemic.
Project activities include:
Key intervention 1: Provide remote and virtual support to factories to deliver awareness raising with factory workers on COVID-19 prevention, integrating messages on SRH and GBV inside factories.
Key intervention 2: Support and work with local authorities and service providers to promote the national referral pathway and raise awareness on preventions of GBV and Covid-19 in the communities where factory workers live
Key intervention 3: Support the capacity building program to the local authorities and service providers on prevention of GBV and GBV response in the target districts.
Key intervention 4: Support local health and GBV service providers to provide accessible, essential health services in the communities where factory workers live and at the health facilities.
Key intervention 5: Engage in GBV technical working group at national and sub-national level
Key intervention 6: Support vulnerable female workers (loss job or suspended) to access hygiene and sanitation materials during the crisis
Nov 2018 – Oct 2021
Kampong Cham, Kampong Chnange, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kandal Provinces.
Line Leader and assistant line leader in 10 factories
28,132 Factory workers