The Walmart Foundation Gives a Big Bump To Its Women In Factories Program

The Walmart Foundation announced that it is upping its total investment for its Women in Factories program to $10 million over five years. The training program, which officially rolled out in 2012, aims to help 60,000 factory working women in India, Bangladesh, China, El Salvador, and Honduras.

So far, over 40,000 women have participated in this program. Of those participating, an estimated 8,000 will be hand-picked to participate in leadership and management programs. The hope here is that that these women can lead their factories in their own self-sustaining training programs in the future. 

Walmart’s Women in Factories training curriculum is pretty unusual. Developed by the U.S. based humanitarian organization CARE, it teaches women work-related skills including occupational health, safety, and leadership training and career development. The program also includes life skills classes in subjects such as reproductive health, financial planning, communication, and hygiene. 

To help ensure the adaptability of the Women in Factories program in its countries of focus, the Walmart Foundation has partnered with CARE in Bangladesh; Business for Social Responsibility in China; Swasti in India; and World Vision in El Salvador and Honduras.

Walmart’s Women in Factories program is part of its larger Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which launched in 2011. In addition to helping 60,000 women working in factories, this five-year initiative is hoping to scale its job training and education program to help 200,000 women abroad and an additional 200,000 women from low-income households in the United States. The foundation has also committed over $100 million to the initiative’s five-year plan toward reaching its main goals.

So far, Walmart has made pretty significant progress toward that $100 million goal, making nearly $80 million in grants toward women’s empowerment issues.

To help move the initiative’s goals along, Walmart, the company, plans to double its sourcing from women suppliers around the world by 2016. In the U.S., the plan is to source at least $20 billion from women-owned businesses by then.

Finally, the foundation has also launched country-specific programs geared toward women, including providing additional retail skills training in India, hiring women construction workers to build Walmart stores in Brazil, and helping grow female owned businesses in Central America.