5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Human Rights Are Made by Women

5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Human Rights Are Made by Women


Find out how CARE is helping 3.5 million women improve their rights.

By Emily Janoch

What does it mean to have dignified work? If you are a garment worker in Bangladesh, it means “because we came together as a group, we have been able to gain the benefits that we should have already had.”

For another woman, it’s that “Now I feel confident and happy working in the factory,” because there are many fewer cases of sexual harassment since the company she works for started working with CARE.

For a Human Resources manager in Cambodia, “When women feel safe at work, they don’t leave the factory. Sexual harassment prevention can help improve every factory in the clothing manufacturing industry.”

Nearly 235 million women worldwide are vulnerable at work due to a lack of laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. Made By Women is a CARE regional strategy focusing on dignified work for women in garment factories in Asia. It runs from 2016 to 2020. In fiscal year 2018, the work reached 64,053 people directly, and 3.5 million indirectly. So far it has attracted $10 million in new funding for this work since it started in 2019.

What have we accomplished?

  • Women’s rights improved: 37,000 women say they’ve seen improvement in their rights.
  • Factories are better places to work: 6,000 women have seen employers and service providers respond to worker demands. 5,600 are benefitting from improved workplace policies and management.
  • Sexual harassment has gone down: 4,500 women report reduced sexual harassment at work.
  • Women can protect their rights: 26,000 women have joined unions or other groups, so they can make their voices stronger at work. 31,000 say they are more aware of their rights than they used to be. Nilufar Yesmin points to financial trainings helping her at work, “Many of us did not know how to calculate our pay with overtime, but now we can.”
  • Laws are changing: Advocacy wins like getting governments to support the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention to end violence at work, getting involved in creating Cambodia’s National Action Plan on GBV, modern slavery laws in the UK and Australia, and other national laws stand to benefit an additional 2.3 million women.
With funding from the Levi Strauss Foundation, CARE conducts lunchtime awareness sessions on topics such as health, hygiene and nutrition.

"Sexual harassment
has a negative impact
not only on survivors
of violence, but also on
the work environment
for everyone."


How did we get there?

  • Work with more people: The strategy doubled direct reach, from 32,689 to 64,053 people. It also reaches 61 times more people indirectly than in 2015 by focusing on strategic ways to make broader systems change.
  • Support local leaders: Union leaders who have been working with CARE (men and women) say they are more comfortable addressing sensitive issues and supporting women’s rights. Made By Women also supported women union leaders to go to ILO conferences to support the convention, and we’re seeing more women leaders in factories and unions than before.
  • Partner with the private sector: CARE went from working with four private sector partners in 58 countries to eight brands in 84 countries. We’ve also been able to get the private sector to support the ILO convention.
  • Convene conversations: CARE hosted conversations and advocacy activities in six countries to support the ILO convention. In Pakistan and Vietnam, CARE was the only actor to host conversations that included the government, workers, and employers in the same spaces to discuss dignified work.
  • Focus on advocacy: Made By Women targets relevant policy opportunities around the world — not just in one or two countries. Careful analysis highlights which countries, in the global North and South, have policies that CARE can influence.
  • Provide evidence: In Cambodia, CARE published a report that shows gender-based violence (GBV) in factories costs Cambodia $89 million in productivity a year. We’re using that to fuel engagement with governments and helping shape the Cambodian National Action Plan on GBV.

Want to learn more?

Check out the Impact Report, the Made By Women website, and the report on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Cambodia.

Take Action with CARE Action

More than 175,000 advocates have already stood in solidarity with women everywhere for better protections in the workplace from sexual harassment and abuse. Add your name today and tell U.S. leaders to support the best possible ILO Convention to end violence and harassment at work, across all sectors. 

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