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The Very Group wins UN award for empowering women in Indian textile industry

Jeremy Lim
25 October 2021

The Very Group has won the community engagements and partnerships category at the India United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles Awards for its work in empowering young women in the country’s textile industry.

Presented in a virtual ceremony, the recognises the group's work to establish five resource centres in southern India, which has helped to grow 25,000 female textile industry workers’ and their families’ knowledge of labour rights.

Following the award, the retailer now qualifies for the Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards, which will be held in Bangkok on 18 November 2021.

Very’s work in India, which it undertook alongside retailers Next and Varner as well as NGO SAVE, included engagement with female workers and their families, textile mill owners and recruitment agents.

Highlights of its activities delivered through its five community centres included the formation of village committees to ensure observance of labour laws, awareness events on gender equality and labour welfare, and sessions on health and life skills for young women aged 12 to 17 years.

The group also worked to ensure better relationships between workers and leadership teams, including support to boost worker life skills, confidence and awareness of employment rights at the textile mills.

Carly Bilsbrough, The Very Group's Head of Sustainability, said: "Tackling complex issues to improve the lives of people in our supply chain is hugely important to us. And with concerns in recent years regarding labour rights violations around the practice of hiring women into textile mills in southern India, we made it our priority to support them.

"We’re hugely proud of the project, and thankful for the enthusiasm and commitment of the communities, agents and mills we’ve worked with. We hope that this award will bring even greater focus on the development of women’s labour rights in Indian textile mills, as well as the textile industry globally.

"Our work in India is far from over. We plan to collaborate more closely with even more industry stakeholders to tackle concerns raised through our worker voice app. We’ll also create even more support via community centres for migrant workers and young women, in particular."

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