Full report

Moving the Needle: Gender equality and decent work in Asia’s garment sector

This report sheds light on the importance of addressing gender equality in the garment sector, while also providing ILO constituents and industry stakeholders with a holistic roadmap for action that places decent work and social justice at the heart of the post-pandemic business model. The report specifically considers gender equality within the garment sector in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

Over the last three decades, the garment sector in Asia has been a key entry point for women entering the formal economy, bringing with it unprecedented opportunities for advancing women’s economic empowerment. Yet, while the sector has provided millions of women with improved economic and social wellbeing, many opportunities remain yet to be realized as persistent gender gaps undermine the achievement of Decent Work for all. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has both underscored and further exacerbated many of these issues.

Drawing on an analysis of developments in the region, as well as interviews conducted with selected stakeholders, this report aims to shed light on the importance of addressing gender equality now, while also providing ILO constituents and industry stakeholders with a holistic roadmap for action to accelerate progress towards gender equality within a wider strategy that places decent work and social justice at the heart of the post-pandemic business model. The report identifies several key messages in support of intensified action and synergies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment within garment sector supply chains in Asia, these include: possibility (for change), power, participation, partnership, planet, policy and progress.

In addition, guided by the theory of change, key messages and set of recommendations developed in the paper, a Road Map for action towards advancing gender equality in the garment sector has been drafted. The Road Map aims to promote increased momentum, cooperation and synergies for gender equality within Asia’s garment sector during the period 2021-22. This draft is currently open for consultation.

This research has been produced under the Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project, with financial support from the Government of Sweden (Sida). We thank the Swedish Government for its ongoing support to the ILO in a shared vision of gender equality, sustainability and decent work for all.