Pax World Urges Industry to Empower Women in Wake of Bangladesh Disaster

Sends letter urging companies to endorse United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.///August 19, 2013/// In the wake of the tragic collapse of a manufacturing facility in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers, Pax World Management LLC, investment adviser to Pax World Funds ( and a leader in the field of sustainable investing, announced today it is urging apparel manufacturers and retailers to endorse the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles as an effective way to address workplace safety concerns globally for garment workers, the majority of whom are women.

Women and the Global Garment Industry

In Bangladesh, factory fires and accidents claimed the lives of 1,000 workers between 1990 and 2012, prior to the most recent tragedy. Women are disproportionally affected by such tragedies as approximately 80% of garment workers in Bangladesh are women. More than 80% of the dead and injured in the Rana Plaza collapse were women, according to reports.1

“Recent efforts to address the safety of garment workers have focused on Bangladesh - for good reason,” said Pax World President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Keefe. “Unfortunately, unsafe working conditions are a broader problem in the garment industry and women are disproportionately affected. Worldwide, women account for two-thirds of the workforce in the garment industry.2 In many low-wage countries, garment industry safety and working conditions are still dreadful. A lasting solution must address the safety and empowerment of all women workers. Companies, governments, unions, women’s organizations and consumers around the world will need to commit to systemic global improvements, not just focus on the latest trouble spot. The Women’s Empowerment Principles offer a framework for those systemic improvements.”

UN Women’s Empowerment Principles

Promulgated by UN Women (UN Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment) and the United Nations Global Compact in 2010, the Women’s Empowerment Principles (“the Principles”) are a set of practical guidelines to business and the private sector on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. In addition to urging a commitment among companies, governments and other organizations to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers, the Principles call on signatories to:

  • Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality.
  • Treat all women and men fairly at work — respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination.
  • Promote education, training and professional development for women.
  • Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
  • Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.
  • Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.

“We are urging companies to formalize their commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment by endorsing and taking steps to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles,” said Keefe, one of the first CEOs in the world to endorse the Principles and a member of the Leadership Group for the Women’s Empowerment Principles. On three previous occasions, Pax World has written to companies urging them to endorse the Principles.

Pax World Effort

In its latest initiative, Pax World has written letters to more than 125 chief executive officers and women members of the boards of directors at more than 30 leading apparel manufacturers and retailers. The letter urges recipients to endorse, take steps to implement, and publicly report on their progress in adopting the Principles in their own operations and those of their suppliers. Clear instructions are provided as to how to endorse the Principles.

Pax World’s letter to companies emphasizes that worker and workplace safety represent substantial areas of reputational, operational and business risks for the garment industry and its investors. “We believe that companies that aspire to implement the Principles, and make a public commitment to that effect, will carry less risk and be seen as better investments in the long run,” Keefe said.

Pax World has a long history of advancing gender equality globally. One of its offerings, the Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund (PXWEX), is the only mutual fund in the U.S. that seeks to invest in companies around the world that are leaders in promoting gender equality and women’s advancement.

Read the letters that Pax World I sending to garment retailers and manufacturers.

More about Pax World Management LLC

Pax World Management LLC, the investment adviser to Pax World Funds, is a recognized leader in sustainable investing, the full integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision making. Pax World launched the U.S. financial industry’s first socially responsible mutual fund in 1971. Today, Pax World offers a comprehensive platform of sustainable investing solutions including Pax World Funds, a family of actively managed mutual funds; ESG Managers® Portfolios, multi-manager asset allocation funds powered by Morningstar Associates; Pax MSCI EAFE ESG Index ETF (EAPS), the only international equity ETF available in North America that employs a sustainable investing approach; and separately managed accounts for institutional investors. For more information, visit

1 "Female Garment Workers Bear Brunt of Tragedy," Inter Press Service News Agency, Tuesday July 30, 2013,

2 "A Common Thread: Issues for Women Workers in the Garment Sector," May 1999, The North-South Institute.


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