Since 2017, the international fashion retailer Primark, has delivered its My Life Programme in a number of garment factories it sources from in southern India. My Life is an eight-part play-based programme of training delivered to garment workers identified as vulnerable – including women, (primarily internal) migrant workers, and those living in factory hostels. The programme focuses on increasing awareness of rights and responsibilities, discussing issues of health and hygiene, and strengthening communication and decision-making skills. Each session is 45-minutes long and takes place once a week during working hours on the factory site.

A play-based methodology involves using games, interaction, and role-play to create a more engaging learning environment for participants. It is more effective in reaching the younger and less literate workers, who may not be as familiar with traditional classroom settings.

How is this Gender-Responsive Due Diligence?

In line with GRDD Step 3, My Life was designed to respond to the increased risk that Primark knows women workers, and migrant women in particular face, around knowing their rights and articulating them in the workplace. Many of the women the programme targets are joining the workplace for the first time. This increases their vulnerability, as they’re often unaware of their rights or responsibilities, and can lack confidence to speak up and voice their concerns in the workplace.

These are risks that Primark is directly linked to through its supply chain, but has not necessarily caused or contributed to. Primark identified these risks (GRDD Step 2) through a mix of:

  • Organisational knowledge, particularly from the Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability team that Primark operates on the ground in its major sourcing countries
  • Data, learning and observations from its regional social audit programme
  • Existing third-party research
  • Using the networks and partnerships Primark has to collect intelligence and insights on the local context for women (e.g.: Women’s Rights Organisations)
  • Data from participatory exercises with women in the supply chain to identify key issues they face in the workplace

Using these insights, Primark worked with partners Women Win, the Naz Foundation and Swasti to design a proactive programme to tackle some of the risks facing workers in the supply chain. Primark has combined its leverage with resources to support women in their supply chain; finance to fund the programme comes from Primark’s ethical trade budget.


  • Since launching, My Life has reached nearly 2,000 vulnerable workers (70% women) across 10 factories. They report the curriculum to be useful and important.
  • Data shows that participating workers: feel more confident asking for clarification regarding work-related tasks; have increased awareness of their rights and responsibilities, and courage to discuss them with their supervisors; and have an increased sense of empowerment and ownership over their bodies and overall well-being, due to improved knowledge of hygiene and staying healthy, especially while menstruating.
  • The factories are also seeing broader change, with participants appearing to be more loyal and productive, with reduced absences.
  • Using a play-based methodology offers a comfortable and safe space for participants to learn and explore new and often challenging topics together.
  • The pilot approach involved Naz Foundation delivering the curriculum. This is transitioning to a more factory-led model which will see My Life identify factory staff that can be trained to become certified My Life trainers – able to deliver the curriculum independently. This will support My Life to become scalable and sustainable.
  • Factory management is generally supportive of the programme and wishes to keep offering workers new knowledge and ways of improving their well-being.
  • Members of Primark’s senior leadership team have visited some My Life sessions – the participating women were responsible for interacting with the visitors, and explaining the value they receive from the programme. The confidence demonstrated by the women was notable.

Learning and Recommendations for others

Primark and its partners share the following recommendations for others working in similar contexts:

  • Having a direct interaction with the workers involved and listening to their needs to design a programme that responds to them, is not only important, but an impactful way of supporting awareness of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Using a play-based methodology creates a fun, interactive and effective environment in which participants want to learn – it also reduces dependency on reading materials, making it more accessible and engaging to those with lower literacy levels.
  • Capturing the qualitative outcomes to complement the data is important – participant stories help to demonstrate impact, and this helps secure management support to continue resourcing such programmes.
  • While participants are primarily women, the majority of their managers are men – it is not always clear to these managers why women need to take time out from work to participate, and they worry about the lost production time. The programme design is being adjusted to orient managers about the programme, explain why it is important for women, and ensure they know that senior management endorse it.
  • Delivering during working hours is challenging at peak production times – while My Life was planned around usually quieter production periods, it still runs into attendance issues when orders amass. Flexibility in implementation timeframes is needed to allow participants to attend.
  • To target the most vulnerable and/or marginalised – eg..women and/or migrant workers – time is needed to translate materials into multiple languages and identify trainers that can deliver in different languages.
  • It is important to continuously review and understand the risks, especially as contexts change. My Life has interviewed factories and the people working there throughout 2020 to understand the changing nature of risk that women face due to COVID, so that the programme can adapt as needed.

Interested in finding out more? Contact if you want to find out how you can collaborate on My Life.

Written by Joanna Howarth