Funds to support women workers in Asia

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Funds for Asian women workers: the post-pandemic recovery in Asia focuses on the economic resilience of women

Fashion company PVH has just launched its first funding initiative to support women employed in global value chains. The so-called Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains is a joint action of BSR, the United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project, and Win/Win-Win Strategies in collaboration with their founding partners and stakeholders. A pioneering initiative that starts from South Asia and intends to invest in the health, safety and economic resilience of women, the backbone of global value chains.

The Fund's goal is to raise at least USD10 million in joint funding over three years to support locally developed solutions to the systemic problems that make women more vulnerable to crises, as demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting from the disproportionate impacts that Covid-19 has had on women workers involved in the supply chain, the Fund intends to address these problems and provide them with the necessary financial resources. It will help strengthen women's economic resilience, long-term health and well-being and will reform corporate philanthropy with its democratized and locally driven approach.

The Resilience Fund for Women is launching its first phase in South Asia, with expansions to other regions planned by the beginning of 2022. Unlimited funding is foreseen for organizations in South Asia, relying on the experience of local actors to understand women workers’ needs and thus better target the resources of the Fund. Its representative advisory board, placing local institutions and feminist leaders as equal partners with investors in determining fund management, aims to respond flexibly to the changing realities to be faced.

The Fund is open to investors across a wide range of sectors. They are entrusted with the task of building new links with women’s funds and local organizations that focus their activities on the safety, protection, sexual and reproductive health of women, all considered as factors of long-term economic resilience.

The RISE Fund (Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs), recently launched by the Australian government's Investing in Women initiative to assist the recovery of women’s SMEs in Southeast Asia, stands in the same direction. The funding project provides capital injection in two phases, integrating a wider range of public efforts and other donations to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Women’s SMEs represent an important source of economic dynamism, resilience, and unexplored market opportunities, which will instead be crucial factors for the post-pandemic recovery in Southeast Asia.

To glue these initiatives is the growing focus of ASEAN on women. A key signal in this regard was the l’ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace and Security, launched on International Women's Day 2021. The first study on women, peace and security in ASEAN underlines the renewed institutional commitment in support of gender equality and women's leadership, involving these core principles in the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and the ASEAN Vision post 2025.

The adoption of significant financial measures configures a promising future for the protection of Asian women workers. Improving working conditions, empowerment and economic support for women are essential goals in the post-pandemic recovery in Asia.

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