Uniting on inclusion in the garment sector

EuroCham's Responsible Business Hub in collaboration with CARE and with the support of GIZ FABRIC Cambodia, hosted the Breakfast Talk event "Breaking Barriers: People with Disabilities in the Garment Sector” on Friday 1 September.

The event combined influential speakers, experts, and stakeholders to address the empowerment of persons with different abilities in the garment sector.

The event’s objectives encompassed showcasing best practices in disability inclusion, fostering a vital dialogue involving government bodies, civil society organizations, and private sector actors, and generating actionable recommendations.

In Cambodia, CARE has worked for over two decades on inclusive programming in the garment sector with a focus on women. Given the garment industry’s substantial role in Cambodia’s economic growth, it serves as a key sector for addressing inclusion challenges and championing equality. CARE’s experience shows that when all workers feel safe at work, have better access to healthcare, are equipped with key life skills, and are included in decision-making, this leads to numerous positive outcomes for both workers and businesses. ​

Ms. Neou Sovattha, CARE International in Cambodia’s Country Director presented results from a 2022 assessment study on inclusion in the garment sector, covering five factories. Among the key findings were that only one out of five factories met government criteria, none had inclusion policies, and workplace regulations were inconsistent. Additionally, only two out of five factories had accessible infrastructure, and none had safety precautions or emergency plans for assisting persons with disabilities.

During the panel discussion, representatives from Better Factory Cambodia, the Cambodia Labour Confederation, Action on Disability and Development, Battambang Textile, and CARE Cambodia emphasized key takeaways, including the importance of raising awareness, capacity building, creating accessible infrastructure, and advocating for better recruitment conditions for persons with disabilities.

The event also featured inspiring success stories, including insights from Channa Kao, General Manager of Battambang Textile, on empowering individuals with different abilities.

The audience was further inspired by Ms. Onn Sokny, Director of Epic Arts, an inclusive art organization that promotes expression and empowerment among people with and without disabilities.

The event highlighted the potential for tangible change when efforts are made at both the ground level and through improvements in the legal framework by the government. Together, these initiatives can drive meaningful change.