Since 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have shaped and participated in special initiatives to help empower women working in global supply chains around the world. Most recently, these initiatives include overcoming barriers to market access for women smallholder farmers through the Walmart Foundation Market Access program supporting the empowerment of women in factories through the Empower@Work Collaborative, and sourcing from women-owned businesses in the U.S. and other markets. Over the past 10 years, we have sourced more than $42 billion with women-owned businesses.
Walmart Foundation’s Market Access program, launched in 2017, focuses on helping Farmer Producer Organizations build capacity in India, Mexico and Central America to help smallholder farmers prosper. Since 2017, the Walmart Foundation has provided grants worth $86 million, which are expected to reach more than one million smallholder farmers in India, Mexico and Central America, 320,000 (or 50%) of whom are women.
These programs are strengthening farmer livelihoods, enhancing value chains, growing the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, unlocking access to finance, growing formal market linkages, strengthening FPOs and empowering women farmers in FPOs. As part of this total reach to smallholders, the Walmart Foundation's smallholder investments in India, to date, include over $39 million, making good on a 2018 commitment to invest $25 million over five years to improve farmer livelihoods in that country. The Walmart Foundation's recently published white paper, Seeding advancement of women in smallholder farming: insights from the Market Access portfolio, highlights lessons learned from its Market Access portfolio. We found that the following areas are most successful in accelerating female farmers’ economic prosperity: women’s membership and leadership in farmer producer organizations, women’s skills and capacity development in farm production systems, women’s inclusive crop and marketing programs and women’s access to finance.
COVID-19 created devastating impacts on global supply chains. Low-wage, predominantly female garment workers have been disproportionately impacted, both by being put at risk and by spending savings on food and medical expenditures for their families. In October 2020, to promote benefits to factory workers with a focus on women’s well-being, Walmart entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other retailers and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The MOU aims to establish a dialogue and identify any steps in the framework for further cooperation in activities that provide much-needed livelihood relief to the predominantly female workers in the supply chain.
Walmart continues initiatives to source from women-owned businesses and support related initiatives such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Student Entrepreneur Program, the NextGen program (nurturing millennial and Generation Z enterprises), and the Women of Color program (aimed at increasing their competitiveness for inclusion in corporate supply chains).
We will continue to integrate efforts to support gender equity throughout our business, ranging from responsible sourcing standards and social auditing practices along the supply chain to internal gender equity policies, practices and commitments.