RAGS Project to Reduce Gender Discrimination in India

RAGS Project to Reduce Gender Discrimination in India

This 3 year program in garment factories is a humble effort to change the lives of women and to help establish a communications platform for workers and managers
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Multimedia from this Release

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 11:30am

Since 2010, SAI's RAGS Project to reduce gender discrimination in the Indian ready-made garment sector has operated in factories in three cities- Bangalore, New Delhi and Tirupur.

Among the significant outcomes are training many more people than targeted and changes in attitudes and understanding across the board.  The significance of project impact is evident from the testimony of individuals. Stories from the factories that participated in the program convey the depth of the project's impact at the factory level, where the future career outlook for women was dramatically improved through project outcomes such as improved internal policies and gender dialogue, achieved by establishing a platform for workers and managers to communicate on sensitive issues.

During the 3 year RAGS project, SAI's team led by Rishi Sher Singh convened 22 gender discrimination workshops across three cities - training a total of 605 participants representing 201 factories surpassing the initial targets by over 50% and receiving a supplementary grant from the UK Aid's Department for International Development (DFID).

During the last week of July, SAI Senior Manager of Research & Stakeholder Relations Alex Katz and Communications Manager Joleen Ong met with key stakeholders of the RAGS Project, including Sumit Sahni, Factory Manager at Vam Hi Fashions in Gurgaon, India.

Prior to the RAGS Project, the Vam Hi Fashions workforce was approximately 24% women. Mr. Sahni commented that as a result of Vam Hi's  participation in the RAGS Project, that gone up to 32%, and the company has set a target to cross 50%.  It also has sought to increase the number of women across all departments.  Most recently, promoting a female worker to a human resources position helped with recruitment and retention of female workers.

In the video clip above, Mr. Sahni explains the impact of factory participation in the RAGS Project, and benefits to him as a factory manager.
According to Mr. Sahni:

"...the biggest benefit as a factory manager has been the openness about gender discrimination happening in the factory which we initiated between all levels...previously [they were] not comfortable to talk. It provided us with a platform for worker interaction about worker discrimination - it's more of a teamwork effort thanks to the interventions of SAI.
The initial taboo in the factory persisted because of the view that women can't take all types of roles in garment manufacturing process...which has changed [to] where every supervisor is willing to take up women workers and train them to the next level - this is a huge platform for growth - now all supervisors are willing to accept women in the workforce...discriminatory complaints have come down because they [supervisors] feel like they can communicate with them [workers] directly."

"The tragic gang rape case in 2012 galvanized the Indian community to think about the broader forms of discrimination towards women," said Mr. Singh. "Factories are a window to change of the society, and have the potential to reach so many workers and their families to raise awareness. While we went beyond our initial targets, there are still many more factories out there that should participate in such a program."

The project is led by Mr. Singh, with support from local trainers Mona Gupta, Deepti Mittal and SAVE (Tirupur). Over the past three years, the project worked with companies including Gap Inc., Timberland, PGC Switcher, Primark, Burburry, Triburg (buying house) to support their supplier factories.

To view photos from the Project, visit SAI's Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/13LRUJB. For more information about the project, contact SAI India Program Director Rishi Sher Singh - rishi@sa-intl.org.


Joleen Ong
Social Accountability International