Breaking the Silence: Empowering Women Workers’ Voices for Gender Equality in Supply Chains


In today’s globalised economy, supply chains serve as the backbone connecting businesses and consumers worldwide. However, amidst the intricate web of these networks, the voices of women workers often remain unheard, especially when it comes to addressing gender-related human rights risks. Empowering women workers’ voices is crucial to promote gender equality and drive positive change within supply chains. In this blog, we will explore how organisations can build awareness and capacity, empower women workers’ voices by implementing effective grievance mechanisms and feedback channels and leverage procurement and supplier contracts to drive meaningful change and forge a path towards gender equality in supply chains.


Understanding Gender-Related Human Rights Risks in Supply Chains


To effectively address gender-related human rights risks, organisations must recognise the unique challenges faced by women workers in high-risk sectors. Women often experience gender-based discrimination, unequal pay, limited access to education and healthcare, and face vulnerabilities such as harassment and violence. Understanding these risks allows organisations to develop targeted strategies that empower women workers’ voices and prioritise their rights and well-being. 


Building Awareness and Capacity within Organisations


To foster change within supply chains, organisations must invest in creating awareness and capacity among their employees, especially procurement staff, about the challenges women workers face. Education and training programs are vital to ensuring that women’s voices are heard and should focus on gender equality, women’s rights, and addressing unconscious biases. Integrating gender equality into procurement policies ensures alignment with the organisation’s commitment to empowering women. Providing resources, tools, and case studies equips procurement staff with practical knowledge to apply gender equality principles. By raising awareness and building capacity among procurement staff, organisations can foster gender-responsive practices that empower women workers and promote a more inclusive and equitable supply chain.


Empowering Women Workers’ Voices for Gender Equality


Creating safe and inclusive work environments is crucial for empowering women workers and amplifying their voices. Organisations should prioritise establishing robust policies and procedures that safeguard women’s rights, eliminate gender-based discrimination, and ensure equal opportunities. Implementing effective grievance mechanisms tailored to address gender-related issues allows women workers to report concerns and seek resolution without fear of retaliation. These mechanisms provide a structured framework for addressing gender-related issues, such as harassment, discrimination, unequal pay, and unsafe working conditions. By implementing gender-responsive grievance mechanisms, organisations create a supportive environment where women workers feel encouraged and empowered to come forward with their experiences and challenges. The primary function of grievance mechanisms is to ensure that women workers have a voice in the workplace and that their concerns are heard and addressed. These mechanisms should be accessible and transparent and provide multiple avenues for reporting, such as anonymous hotlines, dedicated email addresses, or in-person meetings with trusted individuals. By offering various reporting options, organisations can accommodate different comfort levels and empower women workers to choose the most suitable method to share their experiences.


Besides this, organisations should establish channels for feedback and dialogue, such as women worker representation programs or regular surveys, to ensure women workers have an active role in decision-making processes. By providing platforms for women workers to express their opinions and concerns, organisations can empower them to shape the policies and practices that affect their lives. 


Leveraging Procurement and Supplier Contracts to Empower Women Workers


Procurement and sourcing processes provide opportunities to drive gender-responsive practices throughout the supply chain and empower women workers and their voices. By incorporating gender-responsive criteria into supplier selection, organisations can set expectations for suppliers to prioritise gender equality and women’s empowerment. Supplier assessment and due diligence processes should evaluate suppliers’ commitment to gender equality, ensuring that they provide fair and safe working conditions, equal opportunities for women, and adequate support systems. Integrating gender-related requirements into supplier contracts helps embed gender-responsive practices and empowers women workers. Organisations can include contractual obligations that promote women’s empowerment, such as fair wages, maternity leave policies, equal access to training and promotions, and measures to prevent harassment and discrimination. 


Additionally, organisations should invest in capacity building for suppliers, offering support and resources to enhance their understanding of gender-related issues and risks. Transparent engagement with suppliers helps foster dialogue and encourages them to align with gender-responsive practices that empower women workers. These measures can create a more significant and lasting impact on gender equality within supply chains, ensuring that women workers have a stronger voice and equal opportunities. 




Empowering women workers’ voices within supply chains is crucial for achieving gender equality. By recognising the unique challenges that women face, building awareness and capacity, implementing effective grievance mechanisms and leveraging procurement and supplier contracts, organisations can break the silence surrounding gender-related human rights risks. It is essential to create safe and inclusive work environments where women feel empowered to speak up and share their experiences without fear of retaliation. Integrating gender equality principles into procurement policies and contracts ensures that fair and safe working conditions are prioritised for women. By prioritising the empowerment of women workers and amplifying their voices, organisations can create a more inclusive and equitable supply chain that respects the rights and well-being of all stakeholders.