Empowering Women Against Covid-19 (EWAC) in Albania

The project objective is to support women in the textile and footwear industry to withstand the negative impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on their livelihood and prepare the ground for a short-term return to work under safer and improved health and safety conditions.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had an immense impact on the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries. Quarantine measures, closure of retail stores, illness and salary reductions have suppressed consumer demand. At the same time, this sector is struggling with severe supply-side disruption; as workers are told to stay at home, supply chains grind to a halt and factories close. Women in Albania’s apparel and footwear sector are among the hardest hit by the economic woes associated with the Covid-19 health crisis.

The intervention provides assistance to women in the sector, including cash transfers for vulnerable laid-off women workers. Other services include ILO technical assistance for selected factories committed to implementing the ILO Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards in the workplace to protect workers’ health and for a safe continuity of business operations.

In order to ensure that jobs remain sustainable and that factories or women beneficiaries will not find themselves in even worse circumstances, the project aims to facilitate a dialogue between international buyers who source from the apparel and footwear sector in Albania and national counterparts to identify potentials for further or new cooperation between them.

Leveraging the ILO and European model of operating in a tripartite manner in the world of work, the project will be implemented in close collaboration with relevant employers’ and workers’ organizations and other labour market institutions, including the National Agency for Employment and Skills (NAES).

The project builds on the work and recommendations of the international working group – convened by the ILO – gathering employers, workers, retailers and major brands to address the already serious damage to the garment industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.