RAGS : Birdy Exports LTD. 

An Interview with Jaya Chandra about the effect of RAGS on Birdy Exports  

Birdy Exports, a participant in SAI's RAGS initiative on gender rights in the Indian Garment Sector, provides an example of the effectiveness of the program.  The program, supported by UKAID from the Department for International Development, aims to improve working conditions by reducing gender discrimination and improving factory level processes of engagement with homeworkers in the supply chain. Jaya Chandra, HR & Compliance Manager at Birdy Exports agreed to speak with Social Accountability International and share her thoughts on RAGS and the impact it has made in Birdy factories.   


SAI: From your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges for workers that you've witnessed in the Indian Ready Made Garment sector, and how has the RAGS Project helped to overcome these challenges?

Jaya: The majority of people don't have awareness of many social issues, like gender discrimination.  It [RAGS] has helped to create a balance of knowledge in these issues. 


SAI: Over 600 factory managers have participated in SAI RAGS trainings in India - can you describe the impacts of the project that you have seen from the point of view of one of those factories?

Jaya: Our people like the trainings.  They like learning and want to train others.  The ones who have already been trained will continue the work by training others in the coming weeks.  They will use the same materials and begin the next group of trainings soon.  It will be them educating their own colleagues, so it will be a good interaction. 


SAI: What do you think is the most challenging part of conducting gender discrimination trainings for this project and how might this project uniquely/successfully address this?

Jaya: The main challenge is to make people talk about it (gender discrimination), getting into how they are taking it into their life.  There have been changes in education and how women are raised.   I think that is helping a lot to change the problem. But still, we are overcoming a situation where traditionally we don't have the opportunity to discuss things like discrimination and harassment.  It is a challenge to go into that.   


SAI: Why is gender equality important for Birdy exports? Can you observe a change in motivation after classroom trainings?

Jaya: Our directors talk about giving opportunities to women.  They promote a lot of women and create more participation for women in all levels.  The ideas of RAGS are similar to this thinking, and they help us expand our anti-discrimination work. We use RAGS learnings to further reduce gender discrimination.  After the classroom trainings, I think people now understand the problems with gender discrimination, what it is at a deeper level, and what their part is in the process of either continuing or eliminating gender discrimination.  


SAI: Why has your factory decided to carry out gender trainings on your own for the workers? 

Jaya: Our factory is promoting women, so we will try to do that and RAGS will help us.  It will be a tool.  We've received base training materials which will help us to develop our modules according to the feedback and interaction with employees.   


SAI: What are you working on now?

Jaya:  Presently we are working on developing training material for this to adapt it to our factory.  Every month we are having a monthly meeting to discuss discrimination, harassment and gender sensitization, using the RAGS lessons.  


SAI: Going forward can you comment on the potential for this program?

Jaya: There are always a lot of opportunities to improve.  We will see what we can adapt and we can add to the program and we will do it in a continuous way.   


SAI:  Any last thoughts on the program?

Jaya: I think RAGS program is a practical approach to create awareness and the training modules were also refreshing. RAGS is a good initiative by SAI and it is helping some of these issues like gender sensitization.  It is important to find other projects like this that help people in terms of their human rights.   


For more information, contact SAI India Program Director, Rishi Singh - Rsingh@sa-intl.org.


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