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H&M Foundation to provide $1.3m for supporting female apparel workers

  • Published at 07:43 pm July 9th, 2020
rmg women
Reuters

The initial support will include cash assistance for food, medication, and other necessities, health care and Covid-19 testing, hygiene materials, handwashing facilities and other 

H&M Foundation, an initiative of the Swedish fashion giant H&M Group, is initiating a long-term project to support women garment workers in Bangladesh with a primary fund of $1.3 million, starting with their urgent needs connected to Covid-19.

“As a first step, $1.3 million (12 million Swedish Krona ) is donated to WaterAid, CARE and Save the Children to provide around 76,000 young women, their families, and community members in around Dhaka with emergency relief, also reaching 1 million people with messages on Covid-19 and hygiene practices,” said a statement of H&M Foundation on Thursday.

The initial support will, for example, include cash assistance for food, medication, and other necessities, health care and Covid-19 testing, hygiene materials and handwashing facilities, and work on awareness-raising, support to families where gender-based violence increases as an effect of the crisis, child protection and child education focusing on disadvantaged children.

“We will directly support women and their families with, for example, cash assistance for food, medication and other necessities, provide Covid-19 awareness-raising and testing, hygiene materials and handwashing facilities. We hope to see more donors show their support in different ways," said Carola Tembe, program manager of H&M Foundation.

“Together with the H&M Foundation we will address the immediate needs of improved hygiene in the fight against Covid-19 while building towards long term sustainable improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene services,” says Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, CEO of WaterAid Sweden.

The emergency relief efforts are carried out from May to December 2020 with the aim of having positive effects well beyond that.

“We will provide vulnerable women with subsistence allowance and access to health and gender-based violence support, also reaching thousands of community members. The donation from the H&M Foundation will support women and their communities in this time of great need,” says Merlijn van Waas, head of sustainable development at CARE Nederland.

The initiative also includes Save the Children, whose efforts will target children of female garment workers affected by Covid-19 securing their child protection and education rights.

“We will support them with solutions that they can use to ensure their children’s education and protection from violence or abuse. Ultimately helping these children to build a better life”, says Onno van Manen, country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh.

In addition to the Covid-19 related emergency relief donation, H&M Foundation is also taking on a long-term commitment, starting in the autumn of 2020, involving important players from different sectors to achieve systemic long-lasting change, equipping women garment workers in Bangladesh for a future where work is defined by automation and digitalization.

“Together with different partners we will make upskilling, re-skilling, digital literacy efforts and entrepreneurship available to women garment workers with the aim to increase their future employability”, says Carola Tembe, Program Manager, H&M Foundation.

According to Bangladeshi suppliers, in the year 2019 the Swedish retailer, the largest buyer of Bangladeshi apparel products bought about $3.5 billion worth of clothing products from its 235 Bangladeshi garment suppliers.