Around the world, women are rapidly entering the global supply chain workforce in countries where the unmet need for women’s and reproductive health is high, including the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and others (Gereffi, 2010). Today, more than 190 million women work in global supply chain-related jobs across 40 countries (World Employment and Social Outlook). Certain sectors – including agriculture, textiles, and electronics – have supply chain workforces that are largely dominated by women, making their fields, workshops, and factories ideal settings to expand access to women’s health information and family planning services.
Recognizing an opportunity to fill the critical gap in access to reproductive health services, MSD for Mothers, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and Accenture Development Partnerships, launched the Business Action for Family Planning (BAFP) Project. In the program’s first two phases (2015-2018), the project partnered with 11 private Filipino companies to reach more than 1.2 million women across the Philippines with comprehensive family planning information and services through workplace and community-based programming.
The BAFP Program to date has focused on building capacity in several areas to ensure that women have access to the quality information and services they need. By fostering learning between and among workers in the workplace through education sessions and training peer health educators, women learn about available services and receive trusted counsel in deciding which family planning options are best for them. The program has also built health system capacity by facilitating partnerships with various local public institutions, including health centers, to ensure that the contraception supplies mentioned in the workplace sessions are available and stocked. In addition, the program has conducted management trainings across participating private companies to make the business case for continued investment in worker health and well-being initiatives. BSR assessed the HERproject initiative within the BAFP Program and found that investments in work place women’s health programs through provision of on-site health services resulted in an 18% decline in absenteeism and a 43% reduction in staff turnover. These investments saved an estimated $48,000, equivalent to a 4:1 return on investment.
Based on the program’s initial success, and as a result of new partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, the BAFP Program is expanding to its third phase (2019-2021). In this next phase, the program plans to reach an additional 2.5 million people with reproductive health and family planning services, deepen the sustainability efforts of the Philippines-based work, and scale the learnings of the BAFP model to an additional 30 private sector companies throughout the region.