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In Advocacy

A group of women kneel on a porch working with white fabric.

Companies have significant power to change norms and behaviors through their advocacy and public policy leadership. Here are steps you can take to promote gender equity as you help make more equitable laws.

Please note: The advocacy recommendations included in this playbook are not necessarily CARE’s advocacy priorities, and reflect lessons learned from CARE’s programming but not necessarily the expertise of CARE’s advocacy work.

There are women’s rights movements and organizations in most every country that advocate around women’s rights and gender equality. Corporations should seek to be supportive of those organizations and their advocacy goals whenever they can. When corporations engage in advocacy of their own or as part of an industry group, they should seek to ensure it aligns with the goals of feminist movements in their country or region to the greatest extent possible.


SDG Target 5.1 icon: End discrimination against women and girlsEnd all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere.

This target can feel like a big task but each of us and our organizations can model behaviors and influence public policy that ends gender discrimination.

What you can do “in advocacy” to end discrimination against all women and girls:

  1. Work at the local and national level to actively call for changes in discriminatory laws and policies.
  2. Protect the private sector’s right to set company policy that goes above and beyond national policy on issues of gender equality, including health car, supplier requirements, and hiring policies.
  3. Advocacy
    Include in your company advocacy agenda a focus on gender equality laws and initiatives including but not limited to:

    • expanding the definition of discrimination against women
    • equal pay for work of equal value
    • fair wages
    • work prohibitions
    • family leave
    • inheritance/property
    • nationality
    • human and labor rights in trade policy
    • marriage and divorce
    • violence against women
    • quotas
    • pensions and
    • legal capacity
  4. Join civil society advocacy efforts.
    Build coalitions among peer companies and NGOs to collectively advocate for gender equal laws and increased international development aid. For example, a number of CARE’s corporate partners, have joined with CARE’s advocacy department, to call for investments on issues that reflect shared values, such as combatting global poverty and promoting global food security.

Case Studies

Abbott LogoAbbott
As a global health technology company that recruits world-class scientists and engineers, Abbott knows women are a critical factor in solving the world’s biggest problems with smart, imaginative thinking. But in the United States, women make up just 24% of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. Black Americans hold 4.8% of STEM jobs but make up 12.3% of the labor force. Hispanics have 6% of STEM jobs yet make up 17.6% of U.S. workers. There are a lot of reasons for this: One is that high school girls and students from underrepresented groups can often think the STEM fields aren’t for people who look like them.

Abbott knows that hands-on experiences give these students the confidence to engage in STEM. That’s why, starting in 2012, it invested in a high school internship program to demystify what it means to work in STEM. The program gives students the opportunity to work on the company’s life-changing technologies alongside engineers and scientists who look like them. Abbott recruits students from diverse partner high schools near areas where the company has facilities. Because of this, 73% of the students participating in the 2020 internship program were from diverse backgrounds. About half of the students move on to Abbott’s college internship program, and more than 70% of the high school internship alumni hired as full-time engineers are women.

Abbott has created a downloadable “Shaping the Future of STEM” blueprint and is sharing the scalable plan with any company interested in starting a high school internship program of their own. Abbott believes changing the statistics will mean a commitment from all of us to provide young people with opportunities in STEM early on.

To learn more, visit www.stem.abbott.

Colgate-Palmolive LogoColgate-Palmolive Company
Colgate Women’s Games is the United States’ largest amateur track series open to all girls from elementary school through college and beyond. Competitors participate in a series of meets to determine finalists who will compete for educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company. Colgate’s goal is to help girls and women from underserved communities thrive, using the competition as a means to emphasize the value of education—key to Colgate’s purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all people and the planet.

End all violence against and exploitation of women and girls.

Keeping everyone safe and free from gender violence is fundamental to a healthy society and workplace. Your company can play a major role advocating for an end to harassment, violence, and exploitation of women and girls.

What you can do “in advocacy” to end harassment, violence, and exploitation of women and girls:

  1. Advocate at the local and national level for laws:
    • Preventing discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, ability, migrant status, contractual status, marital status, education status or otherwise
    • Prohibiting child marriage and strengthening penalties for child marriage
    • Ensuring that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal and that laws are strengthened and enforced
    • Focused on eliminating sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls
  2. Engage men
    • Engage men in why gender-based violence is not tolerated and why gender equality benefits us all. Here are steps you can take to engage men. To ensure efforts are productive and well-designed, workshops and programming may be best organized and guided by a third-party, like CARE:
      • Create structured spaces for men and boys to reflect on masculinities, gender, power and privilege in their lives.
      • Allow for conversations with intimate partners, and within families to promote more open communication, equitable relationships, nonviolence, support and trust.
      • Bring men together to talk and share testimonies. This will strengthen relationships among male allies to build and expand social support and solidarity against gender-based violence.
      • Support to men to facilitate discussions and campaign around gender and masculinities to transform social norms; (See, for example, AB InBev’s #NoExcuse initiative in South Africa to change gender norms).
      • For additional guidance, visit CARE Insights
      • For an example of a successful collaboration to engage men toward gender equality, please visit the MenEngage Alliance
    • Develop materials and messages in consultation with local violence-against-women service providers. Training should be provided by trainers who are content experts, authentic, and empathetic. For example, the gender of a trainer may be important to create an environment where people are able to participate freely. In design, training should be intensive and provide opportunities for continued engagement, such that participants can address underlying attitudes and build new norms and behaviors. Training that is interactive and participatory can support new norms and shared meanings, while changing attitudes, values, skills, and new ways of relating.
    • Promote the equitable responsibility for care between women and men through advertising campaigns and flexible work schedules.

Case Studies

Gap LogoAB InBev
In South Africa, the “rape capital of the world,” where rates of gender-based violence is incredibly high, AB InBev, launched a multi-year #NoExcuse campaign to change society’s views and tolerance of GBV. Using the beer, Carling Black Label, as an entry point to grab the attention of men, AB InBev produced several videos and initiatives to empower men to change their behavior at the call of other men. From sporting events, radio, to social media, the #NoExcuses struck at the heart of what it means to be a “Champion” man and provided resources and opportunity for men to change their behavior and fight GBV. Moreover, in 2020, as COVID-19 led to stay-at-home quarantine, domestic violence calls skyrocketed. AB InBev expanded the #NoExcuses campaign to include a dedicated WhatsApp line for women and men to use to discretely report GBV and to seek assistance.

Gap LogoGap Inc.
Women, who comprise the majority of the global garment workforce, disproportionately face challenges in the workplace, especially regarding harassment. Over the years, Gap Inc. has conducted regular assessments of the facilities with which it works and has found serious violations related to gender-based discrimination and harassment. These issues require all relevant stakeholders in the garment sector to invest more time and resources to address.

To do its part, in 2018, Gap Inc.’s Supplier Sustainability team worked with its suppliers in India to improve how they scope and implement policies on Gender Based Violence Prevention & Response (GBVP&R). Gap Inc.’s aim was to help its suppliers raise awareness about Gender Based Violence and the rights and responsibilities of male and female employees, including supervisors and managers. To review progress, Gap Inc. assessments include components on GBVP&R and determining areas for improvement, if needed, within a remediation plan. Gap Inc. has continued to evolve its efforts based on its learnings. Specifically, the company expanded these trainings to address gender-based discrimination and harassment in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam. By the end of 2019, Gap Inc. had conducted trainings for more than 500 facilities in its global supply chain—about 70% of all facilities it works with.

Looking ahead, Gap Inc. will build on this program to focus on women’s empowerment, which it will link to Empower@Work, a collaborative effort with BSR HERproject, ILO Better Work, and CARE. It aims to use common curriculum, best practices and collective action to advance women’s empowerment and gender equity in global supply chains.

Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

While your day-to-day work may not lend itself to addressing the issue of forced marriages and genital mutilation, companies can and should play a role in changing harmful practices that disadvantage and hurt women and girls.

What you can do “in advocacy” to eliminate harmful practices:

  1. Advocacy
    Include in your company advocacy agenda a focus on gender equality laws and initiatives including but not limited to:

    • Ending female genital mutilation
    • Prohibiting child marriage
    • Prohibiting early and forced marriage
    • Equal property rights
    • Addressing needs of women and girls in humanitarian contexts
    • Access to reproductive healthcare
  2. Work with your peer companies and relevant NGOs to develop strategies for changes to national and local laws to eliminate harmful practices. For example, CARE has formed a “Kitchen Cabinet” with several partner companies, including UPS, PepsiCo, and Mars, to work together on advocacy on US international aid.
  3. Host workshops for employees and suppliers on why certain practices are harmful.

Case Study

PepsiCo LogoJohnson & Johnson
In Ethiopia’s Amhara region where rates of child, early and forced marriage are high, Johnson & Johnson implemented Towards Improved Economic and Sexual Reproductive Health Outcomes for Adolescent Girls in Ethiopia (TESFA) to address the economic rights and sexual and reproductive health of ever-married girls. Between 2015-2018, CARE worked with married adolescent girls and developed tested approaches to support positive changes in their lives. TESFA scaled up geographically, reaching 2,124 ever-married girls in 12 kebeles across the woredas of Farta and Gunabegemider. This project has been critical in replicating and geographically scaling a proven program model to improving girls’ sexual reproductive health and economic empowerment, and has advanced innovations in measuring social norms.

Value unpaid care and promote shared domestic responsibilities.

Unpaid care is a significant barrier to women’s participation in economic activity because women do most unpaid caretaking and domestic labor (e.g., cooking, cleaning, shopping for home, etc.). Globally, women spend over three times more time doing unpaid work and care than men. When women also carry a paying job, they bear a double burden.

Companies can and should play a major role in valuing unpaid care, providing flexibility and space for employees, and helping change social norms about caretaking. They can also advocate for changes in national law that value caretaking.

For systemic change, government, business, and civil society need to do their part to complete the “5 Rs”:

  1. Recognition of care work as productive, which adds value to the economy and society;
  2. Reduction of total hours spent on unpaid services;
  3. Redistribution at the household level, while shifting responsibility to governments and employers; and
  4. Representation of the most marginalized caregivers in decisions on and design of care policies, services and systems.
  5. Reward through decent working conditions and equal pay for work of equal value, so as to protect a workforce largely made up of women.

What you can do “in advocacy” to value unpaid care and promote share domestic responsibilities:

  1. Advocate for:
    • Government-subsidized childcare or government-provided childcare
    • Tax credits or refunds for caretaking and childcare
    • Right to breastfeed and that retail and other locations provide space for breastfeeding
    • National or state requirements for paid parental leave
    • Incentives and/or requirements for flexible working arrangements
  2. Engage women at your company to help identify and shape advocacy positions.
  3. Engage men
    Institute workshops and programs that promote equal responsibilities and engage men and boys. Many men are unaware that everyone benefits when they share domestic and care responsibilities.

    • To ensure any efforts to engage men are productive and well-designed, CARE recommends working with expert organizations (typically, non-profits) to identify the proper methodology and build capacities in your company and/or deliver programming.
    • For additional guidance, visit CARE Insights
    • For an example of a successful collaboration to engage men toward gender equality, please visit the MenEngage Alliance
  4. Change social norms
    Promote the equitable responsibility for care between women and men through advertising campaigns and flexible work schedules.

Additional resources include the following:

  • Oxfam/Unilever’s Business Briefing on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Why unpaid care by women and girls matters to business, and how companies can address it Read more
  • Work and Opportunities for Women Read more

Case Study

PepsiCo LogoPepsiCo
PepsiCo has implemented a number of programs to support mothers and caretakers at all levels of the company. These initiatives included:

  1. Providing on-site childcare at PepsiCo’s New York headquarters and near-site childcare at PepsiCo Foods North America headquarters in Texas. The company also provides on-site or near-site childcare at international locations, including Mexico, India, Egypt, and Pakistan.
  2. In more than half of company locations worldwide with 500 or more employees, the company has either dedicated mother’s rooms, wellness rooms, or alternate space available for nursing mothers and the company is actively working to expand the number of PepsiCo locations with facilities for nursing mothers in the coming years.
  3. Making available back-up child and elder care services are available through third party providers when a regular care provider is unavailable.
  4. Launching “Ready to Return” in 2017 in New York for professionals who are re-entering the workforce after taking time off to care for a loved one. Ready to Return is a 10-week paid program designed for experienced professionals who have been out of the corporate workforce for more than two years and are looking to return. To help ease the transition, participants are provided with mentoring and coaching support, training to refresh skills and formal and informal networking opportunities with PepsiCo employees. In 2018, Ready to Return was expanded to Latin America, and now includes Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. This program is a demonstration of PepsiCo’s support for working caregivers in our communities around the world and a means to build the female talent pool at PepsiCo.
  5. Expanding parental leave in the U.S., starting in 2021, to be 6-8 weeks for mothers and 6 weeks for parents — a total of 12-14 weeks

Ensure full participation in leadership and decision-making.

When women lead, outcomes are often better than when women are not in decision-making roles. One of the key indicators for this target is the percentage of companies in any given country with a female as the top manager, and the share of middle or senior management positions filled by a female. Here, companies play a central role in achieving gender equality.

What you can do “in advocacy” to ensure full participation in leadership and decision-making:

  1. Advocate for:
    • Mandatory gender-equal hiring practices
    • Gender-equal boards and executive teams
    • Legal protection for whistleblowers
  2. Engage in the community
    Look for ways to influence positive gender outcomes in the communities where your company works. This may include partnering with local non-profits and engaging family members of your employees. Efforts to build women’s skills, capabilities, and access to resources so they are better enabled to make decisions, both productive decisions and household decisions, and fully participate in economic activity, are vital to increasing the number of women in leadership roles.

Case Studies

McCormick LogoMcCormick
McCormick & Company, a global leader in flavor, launched their Purpose-led Performance (PLP) sustainability strategy in 2017 with a commitment to improving the lives of people, communities, and the planet, but more specifically, the Company aims to increase the resilience of farmers, including women, across their global supply chains. To achieve this, McCormick partnered with CARE to (1) diagnose the roles that women played in their supply-chains; the challenges they face, and the risks these pose to resilience; (2) design a global framework to increase resilience and achieve its PLP goals, including increasing the resilience of women in their supply-chain; (3) deliver programming that supports communities, including in COVID-19 response; and (4) document the impact of this work so that McCormick can make strategic business decisions around resources and understand what is improving, where and how. Through a deep dive into McCormick’s supply chain, CARE developed a dashboard that allows McCormick to clearly see the risks that women face, and make effective resource-allocation decisions accordingly, that deliver on their PLP goals.

Coca-Cola Company LogoThe Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) strives for a gender-balanced workplace. The Company believes that investing in and empowering women not only directly benefits them, but also its business and its communities. According to publicly available statistics, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. TCCC has an aspiration to be 50% driven by women and focuses on growing and developing female leadership and its female workforce overall. To make progress, the Company has leaned into a number of initiatives:

In 2007, TCCC started a Global Women’s Leadership Council (GWLC), comprised ofwomen and men executives, that focused on accelerating the development and promotion of women into roles of increasing responsibility and influence. The GWLC did this through actions across 3 pillars:

  1. Sponsorship: A sponsorship program for female leaders matched to Executive Leadership Team members including the CEO.
  2. Pipeline: Launching the Women in Leadership program, a global System program designed to accelerate the leadership capabilities of women in the pipeline at mid-level positions. More than 850 female employees to date have participated in the program.
  3. Bias Awareness: In order to help foster an inclusive culture and to engage men as allies in the pursuit of our diversity and inclusion aspirations, The Coca-Cola Company expanded the GWLC to include women and men.

The Company also established a Women’s LINC Business Resource Group (BRG), designed to engage employees in support of our gender diversity and inclusion priorities, with a mission to empower women to lead, inspire and connect. The BRG now has approximately 1,500 members in the U.S., and there also several other chapters around the world.

TCCC’s efforts have included gender-neutral paid parental leave and committing to paying all associates fairly and equitably. The company has been conducting pay equity analyses (with regard to gender and race/ethnicity) in the U.S. for the Corporate function for several years. In 2019, it extended the pay equity analysis for gender globally across all business units (now operating units) of the company, as well as employees of Coca-Cola North America. Between 2017 and September 2020 women in senior leadership roles globally in the Company increased 2.4% from 31.4% to 33.8%. In 2020, four new North America Operations Zone Presidents were appointed – all were qualified women.

Coca-Cola Women in STEM (CWIS) is an internal organization dedicated to contributing to the talent pipeline at The Coca-Cola Company by raising awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunities in the community, and by empowering, educating and inspiring the women of Coca-Cola to excel in leadership under the STEM umbrella. CWIS has about 5000 members and reaches thousands of middle/high school and college students each year though STEM events and scholarships.

Universal access to reproductive rights and health.

When women control their own health care decisions, including reproductive health decisions, and have access to health care, their ability to thrive, at work and at home, increases. Companies play an important role in providing the benefit of access to care in many countries and in promoting the norms that allow for accessible reproductive care. They can also shape the laws that protect and provide access to reproductive care.

What you can do “in advocacy” to provide universal access to reproductive rights and health:

  1. Advocate:
    • Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines;
    • Free birth control;
    • Benefits that cover reproductive health services;
    • Easily accessible public dissemination of reproductive health resources and information on family planning, menstrual hygiene, nutrition, and pre-natal care; and
    • Laws that empower women to make their own informed decisions about their reproductive and physical health, including, for example: determining whether to have sexual intercourse with their husband or partner; deciding on use of contraception; and deciding on their own healthcare.

Case Study

Abbott LogoAbbott

NCDs in Humanitarian Crises

According to the United Nations, more than 80 million people today are displaced from their homes by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies.

In response, governments, organizations and companies have focused on meeting urgent needs for food, water and shelter. But for many people, particularly in the aftermath of crisis, basic needs include uninterrupted care and management of chronic diseases – also known as noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Despite this, chronic diseases often don’t receive enough attention in these humanitarian settings, according to the World Health Organization.

Working together with CARE, the global healthcare company Abbott and its foundation the Abbott Fund launched one of the world’s first programs aimed at filling this gap – creating a new model, both scalable and replicable, for the effective prevention and care of NCDs in challenging settings around the world.

The three-year program in Marawi City, Philippines is focused on supporting internally displaced people affected by diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Program work includes screening to identify people with NCDs and those at risk of developing NCDs, and expanding access to needed clinical care.

A key focus for the program is mobilizing displaced communities to fill gaps in prevention and care, with an emphasis on empowering women. With an in-depth understanding of the needs of their neighbors, women volunteers lead “NCD Clubs” to advance disease prevention and management, and provide vital peer support. The program also strengthens the ability of local healthcare systems to manage NCDs, and raises awareness and educates on the prevention and control of NCDs.

Initial results are promising. Baseline screening found that more than half (59%) of people identified as diabetic were previously undiagnosed. And following targeted interventions, 46% of diabetic and pre-diabetic patients saw a decrease in average blood glucose (HbA1c) levels, which is an indicator of better glucose control and lower risk of complications.

To learn more, please see story and video.

Equal rights to economic resources, property ownership and financial services.

Although this target is focused on increasing female agricultural land ownership, companies can make also help women to build wealth and economic stability through their supply chains as well.

What you can do “in advocacy” to provide equal rights to economic resources, property ownership and financial services

  1. Advocate
    Push for legislative and legal changes to:

    • Allow for female-land ownership when it is prohibited and to ensure equitable access to capital and resources for female agricultural business owners.
    • Help women build with financial resources to launch and support their businesses.
    • Promote digital payments.

Case Studies

Kabbage LogoKabbage
Kabbage’s business model is tied to the goal of democratizing access to financial services. By leveraging the customer’s real-time, online data, including transaction information, bank data, accounting information, and shipping records, to name a few of the 2.5+ million live connections, Kabbage is able to blindly underwrite businesses regardless of their race or gender. As a result over 30% of its customers are women- and/or minority- owned small business.

Mastercard LogoMastercard
HERfinance – Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth has worked with BSR to scale up wage digitization for ready-made garment factories and workers in Bangladesh, Egypt, and Cambodia. The program focuses on implementing workplace training, especially tailored to women, and has included the development of specialized technology training tools to help factory managers and workers effectively transition to—and use—digital financial services. Shifting behavior away from cash is an extremely challenging task, regardless of gender. However, due to their unique circumstances, women remain at an increased risk of missing out on the benefits of digital financial services. For example, they are less likely than men to appear in the tax rolls, have formal identification, or own a cell phone. Moreover, they are less likely to control household finances. The existing digital gender gap, coupled with these barriers, means women may not have the access, knowledge, or confidence to use or fully benefit from digital solutions without additional support. Well-designed programs which support the transition from cash to digital financial services and take gender biases into account can increase women’s control over their finances, enhance their prospects for economic recovery and empowerment, and improve resilience in the long run. Since empowering women is critical for gender equality and brings clear socio-economic and business gains, their needs and circumstances should be strongly considered in policy and programmatic responses.

Promote empowerment of women through technology.

Technology can lower barriers for financial access, communication, and female empowerment. Companies have the opportunity to leverage technology to use technology to achieve gender equality in significant ways.

What you can do “in advocacy” to promote empowerment of women through technology:

  1. Advocate for:
    • Privacy. Secure technology platforms allow women to communicate with fear of retribution and to share concerns securely.
    • Digital wages. Digital wages can save time for women and ensure they can directly access and control their wages by helping them to send, save and make payments securely through their mobile phone.

Case Studies

Microsoft LogoMicrosoft
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts, Microsoft has focused on providing critical digital support for the world’s first responders, governments, and communities around three areas: (1) leveraging digital technology in concerted efforts to protect public health; (2) promoting inclusive economic recovery; and (3) ensuring digital safety. During the initial phases of the pandemic, Microsoft contributed more than $40 million in cash, technology and services to communities globally. Through the company’s employee community, it executed a global “Give Together” campaign through which employees helped raise more than $40 million worldwide (inclusive of match) for COVID-19 response. As the pandemic continues, Microsoft has extended its commitments to support the response, recovery, and rebuilding of communities globally.

Gap LogoGap Inc.

Addressing the systemic challenges of the apparel industry requires collaboration. Gap Inc. embraced this approach by working closely with its suppliers to build their capabilities, by joining industry-wide efforts to share best practices and improve efficiency and by partnering with local and international NGOs on innovative programs that benefit workers. In an effort to improve the livelihoods of garment workers and help improve supply chain transparency and efficiency, in early 2018, Gap Inc. announced a goal for all of its tier 1 suppliers to make the transition from a cash-based system to digital payments by 2020. As of the end of 2020, 96% of the company’s suppliers were using digital wage payments, and Gap Inc. had rolled out programs in 23 countries.

To support its commitment, Gap Inc. joined the UN’s Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA), which works with the private sector, governments and international organizations to accelerate the transition to digital payments, which can help reduce poverty, build financial inclusion and support inclusive growth. It also advances supply-chain efficiency and transparency.

In addition to promotion of digital wage payments, Gap Inc. has also leveraged technology to enable workers to amplify their voices through the Workforce Engagement Program (WEP), which seeks to increase worker engagement and empower facilities to make worker-centric improvements. In India, where 100% of the facilities with which the company works now provide digital wage payments, time spent on payroll is down by 10% for finance teams and 25% for HR teams. Digital wage systems have also supported more transparency in worker payments, including overtime, which has helped ensure workers get paid what they earned. As a result, worker attrition and turnover has dropped by 15% to 20%.

The company’s suppliers benefit from cost savings via a faster, more efficient payment system. Digital wages also help to increase accountability and transparency across the garment sector. Since financial inclusion requires both access to financial services and knowledge about how to use those products and services, Gap Inc. is evaluating how it can tie its digital wage-payment work to financial-literacy training programs.

Adopt and strengthen policies and enforceable legislation for gender equality.

Every company, and its many suppliers, can play a role in advocating for legislative action and legal change in the countries where they operate. Indeed, the influence and voice of the private sector often shapes political action.

What you can do “in advocacy” to adopt and strengthen policies and enforceable legislation for gender equality:

  1. Work with your corporate advocacy team to identify legal changes that will strengthen women’s rights and protect women workers.
  2. Advocate
    Include in your company advocacy agenda a focus on gender equality laws and initiatives including but not limited to:

    • expanding the definition of discrimination against women
    • equal pay for work of equal value
    • fair wages
    • work prohibitions
    • family leave
    • inheritance/property
    • nationality
    • marriage and divorce
    • violence against women
    • quotas
    • pensions and
    • legal capacity
      There are women’s rights movements and organizations in most every country that advocate around women’s rights and gender equality. Corporations should seek to be supportive of those organizations and their advocacy goals whenever they can. When corporations engage in advocacy of their own or as part of an industry group, they should seek to ensure it aligns with the goals of feminist movements in their country or region to the greatest extent possible.
  3. Work with your suppliers, national governments, and NGOs like CARE, to influence the laws and regulations affecting women’s day-to-day lives.
    • For example, in Myanmar CARE brought together a group of organizations to influence how women’s needs are represented in the Occupational Health & Safety Law. In Vietnam, revisions to the Labor Code offered an opportunity to highlight the importance of addressing sexual harassment at work. This national-level engagement also contributed to global change with the adoption of the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention in June 2019, a big win for workers in the garment industry and around the globe.

Case Studies

Target LogoTarget
Through funding for a multi-country project focused on worker well-being in the garment supply chain, Target has been strong support of a number of advocacy efforts in Asia aligned with CARE’s global campaign to support the ratification of ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. In Vietnam, CARE worked to ensure issues of gender equality in the workplace were considered in the national Labor Code. As a result of these efforts, specific provisions focused on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace – including a standard definition; requirements for workplace regulations to protect employees; and responsibilities of employers, employees and other stakeholders – have been included in the revised Labor Code for the first time when approved by the National Assembly in November 2019. When the Labor Code and associated Guiding Decree are implemented in 2021, it is estimated that approximately 1.2 million Vietnamese garment workers will benefit from the new provisions, along with millions more in other sectors.

Gap LogoGap Inc.
Collaboration is key to driving transformational, systemic change on issues bigger than any one of us can tackle individually. That’s why Gap Inc. partnered with BSR’s HERproject, ILO Better Work, and CARE to launch Empower@Work, a collaborative effort dedicated to empowering women and advancing gender equity in global supply chains through the sharing of knowledge, skills and networks. By harnessing the power of collective reach and pooling knowledge and resources, the company aims to support economic independence and a better future for the more than 80 million women working in the apparel industry worldwide.

The approach is built on two pillars:

  1. Act to encourage and share best practices in worker training; and
  2. Advocate by amplifying collective voice for policy-level change.


Empower@Work released an open-source worker training toolkit for women’s empowerment that includes Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. women’s curriculum, as well as expertise and training from the other partners. One of the core pillars of Empower@Work focuses on influencing and policy advocacy, engaging key stakeholders across the apparel industry including governments, worker organizations, brands, and others. While the development of the Empower@Work operating model is still in progress, Gap Inc. intends to leverage this platform to bring these stakeholders together to, for example, prioritize women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. A fundamental guidepost for this work is ILO Convention C-190.