Fast Retailing Co., the parent company of Japanese casual brand Uniqlo, has signed a global partnership with UN Women to promote women’s rights and empowerment in the apparel industry.
The two-year joint project will focus on three areas: promoting women’s career progression by providing leadership training to mid-career female workers; preparing women for the upcoming effects of automation by providing learning opportunities for workers interested in acquiring new skills; and raising awareness about the importance of gender equality among men, as they occupy the majority of managerial positions even though women account for about 80 percent of the workers in the garment industry.
Fast Retailing will invest 1.6 million US dollars (approximately 1.2 million pounds) in the project, which will target 200 of Uniqlo’s partner factories in Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. During the first year, UN Women researchers will assess the most prevalent gender-based challenges in these regions. The subsequent trainings, to be offered the following year, will be developed based on their findings.
"Fast Retailing is committed to ensure that all women who are main players in our business can fully demonstrate their abilities. This is essential for the sustainable growth of the entire supply chain, as well as to continue to offer products that meet customer expectations", said the President and CEO of Fast Retailing, Tadashi Yanai, in a statement.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, added: “Women comprise the majority of workers in the garment sector, but too often they are segregated into lower paying jobs that offer little chance for advancement. This new partnership with Fast Retailing is a chance to change that".