Textiles Partnership plans to support the Dindigul Agreement


Textiles Partnership plans to support the Dindigul Agreement

First legally binding agreement on gender-based violence in Asia

In April 2022, the Dindigul Agreement, the first legally binding agreement on gender-based violence in Asia, was signed. H&M, a member of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST), is one of the signatory, as well as PVH, GAP, the women-led Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU) and the local supplier Eastman Exports. The agreement received much attention in the media, which called it a "landmark agreement".

Gender-based violence is a widespread problem in production facilities in the textile industry. In early 2021, 21-year-old Jeyasre Kathiravel, who worked at Natchi Apparels, an Eastman Exports factory, was murdered. The young woman belonged to the lowest group of Hindu society (Dalit). In response to the murder, colleagues and other women formed the Justice for Jeyasre campaign. They successfully called for change. The aim of the Dindigul Agreement is to put an end to gender-based violence at Natchi Apparels. To this end, training is to be offered and internal grievance mechanisms (ICC and shop floor monitors) are to be established. In addition, women, especially Dalits, are to be promoted to management posistions. The agreement is named after the region in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Local organisations exchange with PST members

The Dindigul Agreement also caused the interest of PST members: In June 2022, the working group on gender equality organised an exchange with TTCU and the supporting organisations Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labour Justice (GLJ). The PST members learned how the agreement was developed, where the implementation priorities lie and what the different roles and responsibilities of the signatories are.

At the OECD garment forum in February 2023, the Textiles Partnership co-organised the side session „Advancing Gender Justice on Asian Fast Fashion Supply Chains: Learnings from the Dindigul Agreement”. Thivya Rakini, President of the TTUC, reported on the first learnings and results of the implementation: Already one year after the agreement came into force, workers report that they feel safe at work. In addition, the number of grievances has increased - a sign of confidence in the mechanisms that have been established since then. Luisa Scheuber from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Gisela Burckhardt from FEMNET were also on the panel of the side session and promoted support for and expansion of the agreement.

Luisa Scheuber (BMZ): "Current approaches are reaching their limits. Many companies and organisations focus on awareness-raising and training. This is important. Only if women know their rights, they can demand them. But training alone does not bring about change. This requires, among other things, access to trade unions, a strong role for women in companies and trade unions, and a functioning social dialogue."

This is also covered by the Dindigul Agreement: it strengthens the women-led TTCU union and ensures access to trade unions for the women of Natchi Apparels.

Partnership Initiative to support the expansion of the Dindigul Agreement

Good work worldwide is a particular focus for German Development Minister Svenja Schulze and German development cooperation. An important key to this is freedom of association and strong trade unions. In addition, the Ministry recently announced that key measures for good work worldwide are economic empowerment of women as entrepreneurs, managers and employees, as well as labour market policies that contribute to gender equality.

SDG Ambassador Reiner Hoffmann: "Decent work, fair wages and working conditions are a prerequisite for a life in dignity, for a life in prosperity. Only through a socially acceptable world of work and in particular the empowerment of women can good work succeed worldwide."

Therefore, the Partnership Secretariat and the two PST members BMZ and FEMNET are planning to support the Dindigul Agreement with an Partnership Initiative. Other PST members are to participate. The aim is to achieve concrete improvements for women and to create working conditions in which they do not have to fear gender-based violence and discrimination. To this end, the participants want to extend the Dindigul Agreement to other suppliers in the Tamil Nadu region and possibly beyond. The Partnership Initiative would also contribute to the PST focus topics of gender equality .