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Life skills lead to work benefits for young women in garment factories

Thida, 33, has been a garment factory worker for over 15 years. She and her husband work in Phnom Penh to earn money to support her two sons, who live with family in her home province, and her aging parents. Thida has been attending CARE’s trainings for workers through the P.A.C.E. project, funded by Gap Inc., since these began in 2009.

Having dropped out of school at Grade 9 – something she greatly regrets – Thida is keen to further her education however she can. Her motivation led her to always be a regular participant at CARE’s sessions. Thida was particularly interested in the modules on problem solving and decision making, which helped her identify what was causing problems at work and to analyse their effects on her productivity. She says this has really helped her do her job more effectively. She has also become more decisive and is able to make her decisions independently.

The gender training she has received has had a particularly important impact on Thida’s life. She now understands about women’s rights, such as her right to equal opportunities like promotions at work. However, she has also put this knowledge into practice in her home life, sharing household chores with her husband. This is a big change, as in Khmer culture men traditionally don’t help their wives with housework.

Over the years Thida has shown herself to be a dedicated worker; she was swiftly promoted to be a team leader, then to manage the production chain team in the factory and is now a core trainer for the training center of the factory. Her dedication to both her work and her personal development led Thida to be selected as one of the factory’s internal trainers. This aims to ensure that the key life skills provided by CARE continue to be shared with the workers.

Thida jumped at the chance to continue learning new skills and develop her leadership experience. Many garment factory workers are young women like herself who have migrated away from home and will greatly benefit from support to take steps to improve their living standards. The positive changes in Thida’s own life are a great example to those around her and she enjoys being able to share her knowledge with others.

Thida has noticed changes among those she has trained, saying that many show better communication, more courage and respect, and are more able to understand each other’s feelings. As a result, conflict among workers and the employer is remarkably reduced. Improved time management and prioritisation skills have also led to increased production chain outputs, which has delighted the management team of the factory.

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