Back in 2007, Gap Inc. launched a pilot program in India – called Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement – to provide female garment workers with the skills and training needed to advance in the workplace and improve their lives.
Fast forward to 2013: five years, seven countries and 20,000 women later, P.A.C.E. is changing the lives of female garment workers across Asia.
“P.A.C.E. taught me that I can have higher aspirations,” a program graduate in India shared. “I would have never thought I could become a supervisor but my confidence increased and I achieved that.”
A new report from the International Center for Research on Women, a global research institute in Washington, D.C., provides evidence of the transformative power of the program. After evaluating the program from 2009 to mid-2013 in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, China, and India, ICRW concluded: women who participate in P.A.C.E. are more likely to advance, work better as a team, feel more confident in their abilities and have improved their relationships with colleagues, managers and family.
“The P.A.C.E. program helps the women workers acquire the confidence, communication, time management, decision making skills, and knowledge needed to improve their lives at work and at home, and more importantly, to set and achieve goals for advancement,” according to the report.
ICRW also recognizes Gap Inc. as a “pioneer amongst it peers” for developing P.A.C.E, highlighting that the program is holistic, collaborative and sustainable. Because of the involvement and commitment from factory owners and local community groups, “P.A.C.E.’s carefully calibrated win-win dynamic is its strength…the program proves to [have] the potential to advance tens of thousands more women – and change more lives – across the globe,” according to the report.
P.A.C.E. graduates interviewed by ICRW explain that their enhanced skills and confidence has the potential to go well beyond the factory walls and create positive change for their families and community.
“P.A.C.E. brought me strength,” a graduate from China shared. “Now I give my daughters more guidance than orders. Our relationships are getting better…”
A graduate from India said, “I want my own daughters to become engineers and I’ve already started planning for that. I learned from P.A.C.E. how to set goals.”