Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly East Africa, is becoming an attractive apparel sourcing destination for major brands. Capitalizing on the region’s potential could transform national economies and create millions of formal job opportunities, particularly for women. However, to realize this potential, there needs to be a concerted effort to apply lessons from other regions and ensure that human rights, safe working conditions, and women’s empowerment are priorities for brands, factories, and governments.
This brief provides an overview of the apparel industry’s role in sub-Saharan Africa and shares key findings on the impact of the industry on women in the region, as well as key challenges women face in economic advancement as direct employees, participants in the value chain, and community members. It also provides specific recommendations for apparel companies to advance women’s economic empowerment. This brief was developed alongside the BSR report “Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Business Action,” which seeks to mobilize greater private-sector action to enhance women’s economic empowerment in the region.
In addition to the overarching report, this brief is accompanied by two additional industry briefs for companies in the mining and mobile telecommunications sectors.