Since 2011 we have worked closely with BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) as local partners and our suppliers on the HERproject (Health Enables Returns). HERhealth is an initiative within this which provides healthcare and health education to women working in the factories that make our products.
Women make up about 80% of the workers that make our clothes as employees of our suppliers. In low income countries, women often lack access to adequate healthcare and the knowledge they need to take care of their own health. Common issues include poor pre and post-natal care, anemia, the risk of infections and illness including HIV / AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis.
Our short film on the HERhealth in Bangladesh shows the program in action. It includes interviews with some of the women involved and explores how their lives have been changed.
I've learned many things from the peer educators and The HERhealth, such as the importance of taking breaks, and the importance of good nutrition and a proper diet and that nutritious food does not have to be expensive. The training has taught me to eat vegetables as well as protein to give me energy.
I cook for my husband and now he is eating better. I feel like I have much more energy than I did before. I am much better fed. I talk to my neighbors and my mother about things I learn from the HERhealth. My real hope is that I will be a peer educator soon
I will pass on all the information and knowledge I have gained to other workers and friends, even when I leave this factory at some time in the future. I find all the information really useful, especially to those women who are quite shy of doctors.
I realized that a project was taking place in the factory when Tamina [a trainer] came to teach the peer educators about the HERhealth. I told Tamina that I was ill and she told me to go to the work nurse. The nurse told my boss that I was unwell and he drove me to the nearest hospital.
I was diagnosed with cysts on my uterus and given treatment for three months. I told my sister about my problems and she told me that she too was suffering from the same problems. She went to the doctor and had her uterus removed as she had a tumor. My sister tells me that she is still alive today thanks to my advice.
Being a HERhealth coach gives me immense pleasure. I came here to work and earn money. But, now apart form earning money, I have learned lots of things and am able to pass on the learning to those who are unaware of these things, as once I was. I used to think that cancer was a communicable and an incurable disease.
But, in this training I learned that cancer can be a hereditary disease and it is certainly not contagious. I learned that through proper medication right from the initial stage, cancer can be curable. Now I also train the new workers on how to manage the work place stress by practicing yoga, exercise and meditation.
Before I joined here I didn't know anything about the various topics, all of which I learned in the training. My sisters were married at a very young age. I have five sisters. One was married before she was 18 and another one at 21.
After learning about the right age for marriage, I discussed this with my other two sisters and emphasized that they should not get married before the age of 22. I have also convinced my parents’ of this.
In Bangladesh we're aiming to implement health initiatives in all our factories, and we're working with BSR and other local and international partners to accomplish this.
Primark is currently working with BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) to extend the program to a group of female cotton farmers in Northern India.
The map above shows the location of Primark HERhealth factories across the world, and the number of women participating.