USAID, US private sectors sign MoU to help female workers affected by pandemic

USAID and a consortium of US private sector have signed a deal to help alleviate the hardships of female workers in their supply-chains affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

US Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick and Steve Lamar, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the third annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted virtually by the US government out of Vietnam on October 28-29, said a USAID statement.

The participating companies and industry associations in the consortium include Carter's, Inc.; Gap, Inc.; Global Brands Group; Levi Strauss & Company; Nike; Tapestry; Target; VF Corporation; Walmart; the American Apparel and Footwear Association; the National Retail Federation; the Retail Industry Leaders Association; and the US Fashion Industry Association.

With unprecedented speed and scale, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on global supply-chains, disrupting trade and investment, putting frontline workers at risk, and eliminating the jobs of millions of other workers, especially women, said the statement.

The apparel, footwear, and fashion-accessories sector in Asia has been among the most-affected industries, challenged by constraints on supply and demand that arose from stay-at-home orders, temporary closures of businesses, stoppages in production, backlogs in shipment, and cargo delays.

"The MOU establishes an intent for USAID and the consortium to work together over the coming year to alleviate hardships faced by AFFA workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam," said USAID.

Such efforts, in collaboration with local partners, will aim to create a more resilient apparel, footwear, fashion-apparel sector and workforce, enhance the rights and welfare of workers in the factories, and empower women workforce in the sector, it added.

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