San Francisco, October 22, 2007 — San Francisco-based landmark effort has provided critical services to close to a million women
Two San Francisco-based organizations are leading the effort to provide Chinese migrant women workers with free social services, education and legal aid. The Levi Strauss Foundation enters its ninth year of partnership with The Asia Foundation – San Francisco’s largest international charity – with a $200,000 grant to continue to best serve the immediate needs of migrant women workers in China, protecting migrant women’s rights, and providing educational and legal services, while expanding the project into new regions. Both organizations are participating in this week’s Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) conference in San Francisco.
China’s rapid economic development has brought a mass migration of workers from the country’s rural inland to the booming southern and eastern industrial cities to pursue the promise of high-paying jobs. On the way, these migrant laborers leave behind not just their families, but also social and community support and services. Since 1999, The Asia Foundation, with the support of the Levi Strauss Foundation, has been working to ensure that migrant women workers – who make up sixty percent of all migrant labor in Guangdong province – are provided free education and counseling, occupational health and safety training, HIV/AIDS awareness education, and legal services.
The Asia Foundation’s staff in Beijing works with local government agencies, Chinese women’s organizations, labor unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic leaders, and workers to build social support networks and deliver services to migrant women workers. To date, the Foundation has provided assistance to more than 850,000 migrant women workers from more than 1,000 factories in 22 cities and districts in China’s Pearl River Delta, more than 50 factories in the Lower Yangtze River, and in Beijing municipality and has helped enhance joint policy making in favor of migrant workers.
“Our nine-year partnership with The Asia Foundation has reached hundreds of thousands of migrant women workers in Guangdong province and will now further expand into Jiangsu and Beijing. The Asia Foundation program provides access to critical worker-rights and life-skills services and information that ultimately provide opportunities for advancement and improve the quality of life for women workers living away from their families and villages,” said Theresa Fay-Bustillos, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation.
“A safe working and living environment, with real opportunities for securing the additional skills for advancement by China’s migrant laborers, should be a widely shared goal,” Douglas Bereuter, President of The Asia Foundation said. “Through responsible corporate initiatives businesses operating within China are well-positioned and should be motivated to take a proactive role in supporting such conditions and employee improvement opportunities.”
At this week’s BSR conference, which runs from October 23-26, representatives from The Asia Foundation’s Beijing office will present on the current climate for NGOs operating in China, based on its own strong record of cooperation with Chinese government and civil society organizations in implementing vital social services and legal rights programs for workers.