Gender-Responsive Health Protection

„It is women who are the main protagonists in the garment and footwear industry. The sector needs to cooperate to ensure that women have a safe and healthy workplace. Otherwise, the survival of the industry in the long run is at risk.“
  - Lisa Carl -

Multi-Actor-Partnership for a gender-responsive occupational health and safety approach in the shoe and textile industry

Most workers in the shoe and textile industry are women. Therefore, they are impacted by the predominantly unhealthy working conditions in a particular manner. A person’s gender influences their individual risks and needs. Violence and discrimination, overtime and double burden of domestic care and paid work exposes women in particular to occupational accidents and diseases. Gender-responsive perspectives on occupational health and safety measures are still lacking.

Hazards to health at the workplace:

  • high risk of accidents due to fatigue, missing safety precautions and lack of information
  • physical hazards such as heat, noise and chemicals
  • ergonomic hazards due to poor posture
  • corporal hazards due to inadequate nutrition, sexualized violence and high work pressure
  • psychological risks due to stress, double burden, violence, and exploitation

Health is a recognized human right. However, most workers in the garment and footwear industry in India and Indonesia are far from being in an acceptable state of health. The predominantly female workers in the industry are exposed to particularly high health risks. This is all the more true in cases where they are affected by multiple discrimination as homeworkers or migrant workers.

The pressure of heavy workload and inadequate safety precautions often lead to injuries and mutilations as well as chronic and mental illness. Access to clean water and adequate sanitation is absent at many production sites — or is restricted by supervisors. Menstruation, pregnancy, and motherhood are frequent occasions for discrimination. For fear of wage cuts or dismissals, health issues by women workers are often concealed.

The Corona crisis has further aggravated the situation of women workers. Due to price pressure and flexible contracts, suppliers decided to cut costs by lowering labour and health standards — at the expense of women workers. To guarantee an adequate and gender-responsive health protection, action is needed on many levels.

Our Goals

All people have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health at work. By means of a multi-actor-partnership, we aim to contribute to the implementation of adequate occupational health and safety measures for workers in the garment and footwear sector in India and Indonesia. In doing so, gender-specific needs must be put in a prominent position and power asymmetries between the actors must be balanced out. This is what we want to achieve:

  1. Gender-specific health risks of workers are socially recognised as an issue; educational and campaigning work increases pressure to act.
  2. Companies, workers, local trade unions, existing multi-stakeholder-initiatives, supplying companies and civil society organisations enter dialogue on equal terms and act in common.
  3. In dialogue with all stakeholders, standards are developed and implemented in pilot factories to achieve concrete improvements in the health situation of women workers.


Our activities and measures

Aufsteller: Gendergerechte Gesundheit im Fokus

Inform, Educate, Act

Through dialogue forums and lecture series on health and gender, we address the specific concerns and questions of the parties involved. Together with our partners Cividep (India), TURC (Indonesia) and SÜWIND Institute (Germany) we promote the dissemination of information and point to options for action.



Gesundheitsworkshop in Bangalore, Indien

Setting Gender-Responsive Standards

In the context of the multi-actor-partnership, together with all relevant stakeholders, we are developing guidelines for gender-responsive occupational health and safety protection at the factory level. They are grounded in empirical data collection and studies on site, which focus on the female workers as main protagonists.


At one glance

- Subject:
Workers' health in the clothing and footwear sector
- Countries:
- Duration::
December 2021 until November 2024
- Partner organisations
- Donors:
Engagement Global mit den Mittel des BMZ
- Contact:
Project manager
Lisa Carl, FEMNET


Rollup: © Südwind
Workshop: © CIVIDEP