Managers and owners from up to 23 factories are gathering in Phnom Penh this week at an event hosted by CARE and Better Factories Cambodia which aims to highlight those taking the lead to prevent sexual harassment in the garment industry.
The 23 factories are using CARE Cambodia’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Package to send a clear message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in their workplaces. This approach will cover close to 40,000 workers.
Research has found that one in three women working in Cambodian garment factories had experienced sexual harassment in the previous 12 months and that this could have an indirect cost to the industry of up to $89million per year. CARE’s package aims to prevent and respond to sexual harassment by supporting factories to put clear reporting procedures in place and train their staff on this issue.
The event will offer factory owners and managers the opportunity to engage with these tools in detail and make a personal commitment to lead improved safety measures for the women working in their factories. H&M will speak of the importance their brand places on suppliers taking this issue seriously, while Better Factories Cambodia will emphasise that taking a proactive approach is the best way for factories to ensure compliance.
“Safe working conditions are not only good for women workers, but also good for business,” says Esther Germans, Better Factories Cambodia Program Manager. “Our research shows that factories with safer working conditions and more empowered women workers can also reach higher productivity.”
Mr Ly Tek Heng, Operations Manager for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, has previously spoken in praise of CARE’s approach. A video to be shown by CARE and remarks from both H&M and Better Factories Cambodia will be livestreamed on the CARE Cambodia facebook page.
CARE’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Package was developed with the support of the Australian Government and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. The Australian Government is supporting the expansion of this to more factories in Cambodia, with ILO and H&M supporting access to additional factories. The Levi Strauss Foundation is financially supporting the Sexual Harassment Prevention Package in a number of their supplier factories.