Pilot Project Organic Cotton in India

Joint projects
Pilot Project on Organic Cotton in India
Investing in organic and fair trade cotton in India: A partnership model to increase the supply of organic cotton in the global market.
Copyright: Fairtrade International / FLO-CERT Chetna Organic / Fairtrade Cotton

Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in the global textile sector. The demand for organic cotton has hugely accelerated over the past years. However, one of the biggest challenge in the sector is aligning the growing demand for certified organic cotton with its availability. At the same time, the risk of contaminated cotton from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) needs to be decreased. 

In the organic cotton pilot project in India (South Odisha), several companies and organisations have joined efforts.

Their objective is to to increase the amount of available organic cotton on the world market through a variety of measures including training, empowerment of women, support in the conversion to organic cultivation, GMO-free seeds, purchase guarantees and premiums. 

Based on the learnings from the pilot project, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is planning a Partnership Initiative for organic cotton in India. Brands, retailers and standard organisations are invited to participate.

Find more information in our factsheet.

Cooperation Partners

Transfair e.V. (Fairtrade Germany), Tchibo GmbH, Dibella b.v. and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Chetna – FFID, Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA)


June 2020 to March 2023


mail@textilbuendnis.com (Dr. Lisa Wegner)

Project website from Fairtrade

Purchasing Practices (Self-)Assessment


Purchasing Practices (Self-)Assessment

15 Partnership companies analyzed their purchasing practices and gathered feedback on the purchasing behavior of producers along their own supply chain. For this purpose, they had access to an online survey between March and April 2021.

As early as 2020, companies in the Textiles Partnership were able to use the Purchasing Practices Self Assessment (PPSA) for a self-assessment of their purchasing practices (Results). With the Purchasing Practices Assessment (PPA), they could now additionally involve their suppliers and invite them to critically evaluate their own purchasing behavior. The online tools were made available through cooperation with two strategic partners: the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) initiative and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT).  

Results and further steps

Fifteen Partnership companies participated in this year's survey, interviewing a total of 70 people via the self-assessment (PPSA) and 260 suppliers in the PPA. The results of the surveys can be used to identify risks in the supply chain that are related to their own purchasing practices. Possible risks include, for example, not paying living wages, enforced overtime or unauthorized subcontracting.

Furthermore, companies can initiate measures based on the results in order to contribute to the improvement of social and ecological standards at suppliers through more responsible purchasing. Results of the PPSA and PPA evaluation are to be presented to the Textiles Partnership after the summer.

Annual Topic 2021: Responsible Purchasing Practices

In 2021, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles pays special attention on responsible purchasing practices. More info on the annual topic 2021.

New Guideline: Responsible Exit


New Guideline: Responsible Exit

Equal partnerships between purchasing companies and suppliers are based on the principle of mutual respect, striving for win-win situations with shared responsibility for improving working conditions. If suppliers in the supply chain violate human and environmental rights and negative impacts cannot be jointly addressed, the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Sector Guidance indicate that companies should terminate the business relationship as a last resort. In practice, economic rea-sons or deficiencies in product and service quality can also lead companies to stop working with a supplier. If disengagement is inevitable, purchasing companies should follow a responsible process, the so-called "re-sponsible exit". Responsible in this case means, above all, taking measures at an early stage to minimise or mitigate negative impacts on employees at suppliers.

Representatives of 12 PST companies and civil society worked together in the Peer Learning Group on Pur-chasing Practices to develop a guideline for responsible exits. It provides companies with detailed guidance and support on the requirements they should follow during the responsible exit process. So far, only PST members could use the guide, but now it will be made available to the general public. This guide sets out step by step how companies can develop a process that ensures that they exercise respon-sible exits and which guidelines and requirements have to be taken in consideration.

Download guideline as PDF:

Training series on responsible purchasing practices


Training series on responsible purchasing practices

Between March and June 2021, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) is hosting an online training series on responsible purchasing practices for members of PST and the Fair Wear Foundation. The series will address some of the most pressing issues companies are currently facing as they roll out their responsible purchasing programmes. The training offers support to CSR staff, purchasing staff and other related staff on effectively integrating responsible purchasing practices into their company practices, following on from the basic training on purchasing practices. The events will be delivered by the Thrive Collaborative, a consultancy organisation with human rights expertise and sector-specific practical experience along the textile supply chain.

In the training series, companies are supported on

  • How to integrate responsible sourcing practices into their business strategy
  • How to responsibly deal with a decline in orders in the context of COVID-19
  • Which methods they can use in the exchange with suppliers on open cost models
Flyer Training series
Annual Topic 2021: Responsible Purchasing Practices

In 2021, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles pays special attention on responsible purchasing practices. More info on the annual topic 2021.

Chemical Management Conference


Chemical Management Conference

Together with GIZ GmbH, zalando and FABRIC Asia the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles organises the conference “Chemical Management in Chinese textile, garment and footwear production”, which will take place on 27 May 2021.

In addition to the on-site event in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, the event will also be streamed online to allow regional stakeholders to participate. The event is particularly relevant for producers of textile, garment and shoes, however, all industry stakeholders are welcome. The conference will be held in Mandarin and English. 

Find more information on the event and registration in the documents below. The registration deadline is May 19, 2021.


Alliance for Integrity launches global integrity campaign


Alliance for Integrity launches global integrity campaign

Together with more than 60 partners from the private and public sectors as well as civil society the Alliance for Integrity launches a global integrity campaign that highlights the negative effects of corruption, emphasises the benefits of acting with integrity, and calls for everyone to take responsibility.

Wie die Allianz für Integrität in einer Pressemitteilung schreibt, verfolgt die Kampagne den zentralen Gedanken, dass tagtäglich Millionen Menschen die schwere Entscheidung zu treffen haben, wie sie sich im Umfeld von Korruption verhalten sollen. Zentraler Baustein der Kommunikation ist deshalb eine Videokampagne with interactive, and sequential storytelling. Users are initially addressed via a video that takes up an everyday business situation, ending with a conflict of interest and the campaign slogan ‘What would you do?’. They can now decide between three options on how the story should continue. After choosing, the story highlights for each option both the individual consequences and the consequences for society as a whole.

However, creating a sustainable business environment requires more than raising awareness. Therefore, the video campaign concludes with a call-to-action that links to the campaign website The website features further information provided by all partners involved, including publications, videos, podcasts, upcoming events and corruption prevention trainings. The campaign website is available in five languages (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesia).

The campaign is launched on Monday, 29 March 2021 and will culminate in the Global Conference of the Alliance for Integritytaking place end of April (27-29 April 2021).

The Alliance for Integrity is a business-driven, multi-stakeholder initiative seeking to strengthen corruption prevention measures in the economic system and global supply chains. As a learning and implementation network, the initiative promotes Collective Action by all relevant actors from the private sector, the public sector and civil society. The Alliance for Integrity is currently active in 14 countries worldwide. Key activities include awareness raising, building compliance capacities among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and improving the framework conditions for doing business through public-private dialogues. Solutions successfully tested in one country are replicated in other regions and fed into the global political agenda.

The Alliance for Integrity is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Review Process 2021 starts


Review Process 2021 starts

Today marks the start of the 2021 Review Process for members of the Textiles Partnership. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned start in spring 2020 was postponed by one year.

The Review Process represents the individual commitment of the companies in the Textiles Partnership to take responsibility for sustainability in their supply chain. The aim of the review process is to effectively prevent and mitigate the major social, environmental and compliance risks in the value chain.

In 2019, the Review Process was fundamentally revised on the basis of the OECD Alignment Assessment and the due diligence approach was focused on. The new Review Process is based on the requirements and specifications of international frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for the Textile Sector and the ILO Core Labor Standards.

Around 70 Partnership companies are called upon to conduct an individual risk analysis, set targets and define measures. In the risk analysis, they must consider these eleven sector risks:

From today until May 31, companies can enter their data in the Partnerships's own TexPerT tool. In-person assessments will then take place and, as things currently stand, initial results can be expected in October.

Infografik Review-Prozess: 5 Stufen. 1. Risiken ermitteln und priorisieren, 2. Ziele definieren und Fortschritte berichten, 3. Auswertungsgespräch, 4. Anpassung, 5. Veröffentlichung

The members of the other stakeholder groups - i.e. associations, non-governmental organisations, standard setting organisations, trade unions and the Federal Government - also fulfil a reporting obligation in the Partnership. They report on how they have contributed to the Partnership in the past reporting period and what measures they have undertaken to achieve the Textiles Partnership's objectives.

Detailed information on the Review Process can be found on this page: https://www.textilbuendnis.com/en/der-review-prozess/

‘Invisible Women’ – Due Diligence Risks and the Gender Data Gap


‘Invisible Women’ – Due Diligence Risks and the Gender Data Gap

Written by Stephanie Barrientos

Women play a key role in the global textile value chain. They account for an estimated 70% of the 60 million garment and textile workers worldwide, with many more at lower tiers of production. Yet women workers are often ‘invisible’, with little accurate data or information available on their participation, roles and conditions of work.

Invisible women are mainly concentrated in non-standard jobs or lower tiers of the value chain. They include casual workers employed by large factories to deal with peaks in orders, home-based workers involved in embellishment, and contributing family labour in cotton production. Invisible women workers often face the poorest conditions, and significant risks of discrimination and gender-based violence.

Businesses are blind to these risks and unable to comply with human rights due diligence without gender visibility in their global value chains. This is critical to addressing the rights and well-being of women workers, as well as to achieving better commercial outcomes and more sustainable value chains.

Gaps in collection, recording and reporting

The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme has undertaken research on gender data gaps in the garment value chain through partnerships with leading UK retailers. WOW has evidenced gaps in collecting, recording and reporting consistent gender disaggregated data. Although companies do hold some gender-disaggregated data, it is partial, often contains discrepancies, or relates to fragmented initiatives or production segments rather than across their value chain. The main gaps WOW found include:

  • Collection gaps:At upper tiers of the value chain, a large amount of data on workers is gathered by suppliers, social auditors and initiatives. But how numbers are collected varies. Data is often aggregated without a break down by gender across different worker categories (e.g. workers, supervisors and managers). At lower tiers, very little gender data is collected on workers in subcontracted production (e.g. supplied by labour contractors, home-based workers or casual workers in agriculture). 
  • Recording gaps:Even where data is collected, it is not recorded systematically, or in a way that is easily accessible. For example, social auditors may gather data in their notes, but only some is entered into social audit pdf. files, which are difficult to access. Even less data is uploaded onto social compliance data bases, and is often overwritten when new data is entered, making it difficult to track.
  • Reporting gaps:Some leading brands and retailers are now publicly reporting on their global suppliers and worker numbers (including % female) - an important advance in transparency. But without adequate collection and recording, the gender data reported is usually highly aggregated, likely to contain inaccuracies, and overlooks women workers in more precarious work with greatest human rights risks.
Women are exposed to higher risks than men

The OECD Guidelines highlight that the risks faced by women workers differ from men, and women are disproportionately vulnerable to adverse impacts. But effective human rights due diligence is impossible where women workers remain invisible or under reported.

Many businesses rely on social audits, which have helped to identify measurable issues (e.g. health and safety). But they have been highly ineffective at identifying gender issues, particularly discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Women are more likely to be exposed to these risks in circumstances where their work is insecure, and their supervisors and managers are mainly male. Yet, it is difficult to identify or address potential risks without an accurate gender profile of all categories of worker (permanent and casual) and their supervisors/managers. 

The Covid-19 crisis has further deepened the gender risks. Women workers in textiles and garments are over-represented in insecure jobs or home-based work most vulnerable to retrenchment or loss of income. They lack social protection or means of support for their households, with many facing destitution. There is evidence women face increased gender based violence both at home and work.

Companies need to contribute

The WOW alliance has identified clear opportunities for businesses to improve transparency on women’s work in global value chains and inform strategies to leverage gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Given the high level of resources that companies devote to social compliance, it could become an important source of evidence on the work and conditions of female workers across global value chains - if improved to capture key gender data. While it is far from a silver bullet, it provides a platform to build upon, and companies must play an important influential role in championing the consideration of women in data and reporting.

  • Data collection: Despite their limitations social audits provide an existing mechanism that could be used more effectively. Businesses must systematically and consistently collect data that allows the identification of (and subsequence action to address) risks to women. Suppliers need to request gender data from sub-contractors and lower tier suppliers.
  • Data recording: Gender-disaggregated data and information that is gathered, should be captured in a way that is useful for detailed analysis or tracking over time. Businesses must use social audits to track data that will allow them to identify and address their risks effectively over time, archiving past data in an accessible format. 
  • Data reporting: Businesses can push for reporting frameworks that take women into account and drive greater accountability. These need to be compatible across companies and organisations, in order to compare change over time and assess progress.

There are signs of positive change. Some leading retailers and brands are examining their procedures and practices to enhance the visibility of women workers in their textile and garment value chains. The Gender Data and Impact (GDI) toolhas been developed through collaboration between a number of leading organisations to conduct gender responsive due diligence in global supply chains. Sedex, a leading international ethical trade and social compliance platform, has highlighted the collection and reporting of better gender data and information as a key goal in its work.

Reliable data on women and men workers will, however, only form one dimension of attaining more effective due diligence in textile and garment value chains. Long-lasting change will require companies to analyse the gathered data, translate it into effective responses for workers and engage in large-scale collaboration with peers, civil society and policymakers. By working together, businesses can begin paving the way towards more resilient and sustainable value chains.

Further information: 

Barrientos, S. (2019) Gender and Work in Global Value Chains: Capturing the Gains? Cambridge University Press.

‘Building Back Equitably: Spotlight on Covid-19 and women workers in global value chains’ WOW Briefing Paper, October 2020.

Brief Bio

Professor Stephanie Barrientos, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. Research lead on the Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme funded by UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

E-Mail: s.barrientos@manchester.ac.uk

Guidance Document „Due Diligence, Social Audits and Gender-Based Violence and Harassment“

A new guidance document addresses the gender-sensitive design of social audits. Find more details in this news article..

Anual topic 2020: Gender-based violence

In 2020, gender-based violence was our annual topic in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. More information here.

ZDHC CMS Technical Industry Guide