Gender Equality Programme in garment supply chains


Change Alliance received Sandvik India Gender Award in July 2019, and as a result Sandvik partnered with Change Alliance and PHIA Foundation to work on Gender Equality Programme in 4 factories in Delhi/NCR focusing on gender sensitisation and training of factory level workers to facilitate safer workplace for women. Sandvik has supported the project towards women empowerment at workplace. The project leverages the tried and tested design of Gender Equality Programme (GEP), implemented by Phia Foundation and Change Alliance at over 25 garment factories across Delhi-NCR and Karnataka. GEP has been supported by leading international brands such as Marks and Spencer, Levi Strauss and Co, Superdry, Mothercare etc.

The primary focus of the project is to increase understanding at the factory level about gender equality, safe and gender sensitive workplace and legal mechanism to address issues related to sexual harassment. Considering the effect of COVID-19 on garment factories Sandvik agreed to revise the beneficiary target in September 2020 through an addendum in January 2021 revising the target of workers to be trained and also extended the duration of the project.  During the COVID 19, Ready-made Garment (RMG) buyers and suppliers struggled to mitigate the economic repercussions of the coronavirus, and orders worth billions of dollars were cancelled. Millions of workers were retrenched, some without payment of wages for already completed work or severance pay.

Developed by the ILO-Sida Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project and the ILO-IFC Better Work programme, states that the imports by major buying countries from the garment-exporting countries in Asia—which employed an estimated 65 million workers (75% of total workforce) in 2019—had dropped by up to 70% in the first half of 2020, due to COVID-19. This is accompanied by a subsequent increase in workers’ layoffs and dismissals, while factories which have managed to reopen are now are operating at reduced workforce capacity.

Gender inequality and gender-based discrimination of women at the factory level was mitigated through sensitization and engagement aimed towards:

  1. Senior and mid-level management
  2.  Supervisors, floor in-charge 
  3. Internal Committee Members
  4.  Peer Trainers
  5. Factory workers

The project deliverables have been seriously impacted due to massive disruptions in the economy and industry on account of stringent healthcare measures and lockdowns across the country.  Most garment factories have not been fully operational since lockdown. Due to the spread of COVID 19 pandemic globally and in India, with subsequent country wide total lockdown since March 25, 2020, our meetings with suppliers to take up Gender Equality Programme in their manufacturing units materialised only after July 2020. 

About the Project

The project activities comprising of preliminary meetings, factory profiling, training of senior, mid and lower management, Peer Trainers and workers training are completed by 25 October 2021. The workers’ training was initiated from February 2021 in Chelsea Mills and from June 2021 onwards in Richa Global. 

The key components are training and sensitization in order to build awareness and understanding on:

  1. Gender equality principles
  2. Gender based violence (GBV); factories leading to violence against women and girls
  3. Addressing sexual harassment of women at home, public places and work place. 
  4. Promoting practices for a safe workplace: provisions and issues. The gender diversity policy and no retaliation policy will be recommended by engaging with factory HR and managers.
  5. Promoting the effective implementation of the provisions under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 commonly known as Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace (PoSH) Act 2013.
  6. A large number of women workers in the garment industry are migrants from other states.
  7. Awareness building with the employer and women workers on the provisions of Interstate Migrant Workmen Act 1979


As PoSH Act 2013 is a mandatory requirement at workplaces and is a critical part of our engagement, the project helped with the strengthening of Internal Committees mandated under law and their effective functioning.  

Project activities

  • Develop and create curriculum materials (for 15-20 peer trainers per factory) 
  • Development of short training module on PoSH and gender sensitive workplace environment
  • Induction Programme- customisation of delivery
  • Factory management on-boarding and agreement of schedule of trainings
  • Preliminary visits to factories
  • Factory profiling- baseline and endline
  • Capacity building programmes for the management to drive the sessions on PoSH as part of the induction programme.
  • Identification of 15-20 peer trainers from each factory who will be responsible for training of workers on their production line with an active support from the respective factories. 
  • Training of peer trainers by the Master Trainers on gender equality, sexual harassment, violence against women and grievance redressal and Domestic Violence. 
  • Peer trainers in each factory to train their production lines on all key thematic areas. 
  • Gender Equality, Sexual Harassment, Violence against Women and grievance will be staggered across the Peer Trainer groups 
  • Set up/ strengthening of Internal Committee (IC)
  • Prepare case studies and study material from real life examples to facilitate simulated sessions for the Internal Committee members
  • Follow up and consultations with factory management
  • Training schedule for factory managers and selected women workers
  • Record maintenance and collation following every training programme 
  • Qualitative improvement of indicators measured with Peer Trainers through case studies/change stories
  • Learning and sharing meetings to learn and promote exchange of good practices
  • Completion of full project report

Processes undertaken

From March 2020 onwards, we are in constant touch with three suppliers with whom we have worked previously i.e. Richa Global Private Limited, Pearl Global Private Limited and Chelsea Mills Pvt Limited to take up Gender Equality Programme to support workers coming back to work in pandemic time and also strengthen the grievance redressal mechanisms through review of their policies and strengthening of ICs under PoSH Act.  We had several rounds of meetings, agreement and also design workshop on the project. 

Based on our continuous engagement with suppliers, Richa Global Private Limited and Chelsea Mills LLP agreed to implement this programme in their factories. In Richa Global’s 4 units/factories (fourth one included on 13 March post training) this programme will be implemented and in Chelsea Mills two factories will be covered. 

Thus, a total of 4 factories will be covered in this project in Gurugram and Manesar in Haryana.

Sl. No. Name of Suppliers Number of factories
1 Richa Global Pvt Limited- total 2 Factories
  • 1 factory in Gurugram
  • 1 factory in Manesar
2 Chelsea Mills LLP- total 2 factories
  • 1 Factory in Gurugram
  • 1 factory in Manesar


Considering the strategies and planning with suppliers, Phia Foundation and Change Alliance has completed the project on agreed timeline of October 2021. The mid- managers (welfare, HR and Compliance officers) and Peer Trainers were trained for sustainability of the Gender Equality Programme once we exit from the factory to continue the process through its champion of change agents (Peer Trainers). Phia Foundation and Change Alliance has worked closely with factory HR managers and Compliance managers to develop policies and restructure the Internal Committee in terms of strengthening the grievance redressal systems in these factories. We have also provided awareness raising material and power point presentations to make new joiners aware on these issues during induction and to carry out these gender trainings on regular basis. 

Major Findings

    • 100 senior and mid managers were trained
    • 95 lower management-supervisors and floor in-charge trained
    • 900 workers trained within factory 
    • 37 Internal Committee members were trained, and their capacities were strengthened to take up roles and responsibilities
    • 101 Peer Trainers were trained directly as Master Trainers to train workers in the factory
    • 1350 factory workers were trained from the community 
    • Both Chelsea Mills and Richa Global has planned to train all factories covering over 1000 workers additionally beyond project period and assured to train workers on Prevention of sexual harassment and gender sensitisation as a regular training process even after the end of the project.