MAS Holdings, a global leader in apparel manufacturing, commemorates a significant milestone: 20 years of the Women Go Beyond (WGB) initiative. Established in 2003, WGB has been instrumental in empowering women within MAS and its communities worldwide, challenging conventions, and championing resilient women. Over the past two decades, it has made a profound impact, supporting thousands of women globally. Addressing critical issues such as gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and economic empowerment, WGB has worked to change the mindset and infrastructure that prevents women from competing on an equal platform. This anniversary is a testament to MAS’ commitment to gender equality and the enduring relevance of WGB’s mission.
Thanuja Jayawardena, Head of Women Go Beyond, reflects, ” MAS has always recognized the need to address the challenges and stereotypes holding women back from leading our businesses and our communities. The Women Go Beyond Program was developed with a solid structure and a vision to work towards gender parity and has continued to redefine itself, to recognize the needs of women and men in a more equitable world.”
The Women Go Beyond program has evolved from a movement into a way of life, impacting every facet of a woman’s journey. With efforts spanning all levels of the organization, MAS’ goals are ambitious: empower 100% of women on the factory floors, through education and opportunities provided on women’s health and SRHR, skill development, combatting gender-based violence, and promoting career advancement. By 2025, MAS Holdings’ aims to achieve a target of 30% women in management, where they advocate for a world where women compete on equal footing, make choices freely, and actively participate in decision-making.
WGB is a multifaceted initiative designed to empower women across identified strategic areas. It actively supports career advancement through language, IT, soft skills, finance management and leadership development training., Recognizing the importance of and the gaps in women’s health education, WGB offers maternal health clinics and workshops on sexual and reproductive health and rights, breast cancer and cervical cancer awareness and screenings and mental health and wellbeing support.
It is a sad truth that in all global locations MAS is present in, gender-based violence continues to be a critical issue that needs attention. Education and awareness on legal frameworks and rights and support for women suffering from violence form key levers of the program’s framework. Developing skills outside the job role, such as entrepreneurial skills and learning new trades and crafts, has led to hundreds of female entrepreneurs being born within MAS facilities. WGB annually celebrates and rewards women who exemplify empowerment, fostering role models and advocates for progressive change.
What sets WGB apart is its seamless integration into MAS’ organizational culture, fostering an environment of inclusivity and respect. It has sparked a massive shift in mindset, with leadership assuming responsibility for promoting gender equality. Initiatives like unconscious bias training, mentorship and sponsorship programs for women and networking opportunities and infrastructure support such as lactation rooms, employer-supported childcare assistance and provision of many family friendly policies including maternity, paternity and adoption leave and flexible work arrangements, create a more inclusive work environment.
“While we reflect on our journey spanning over two decades and the significant strides made towards equality, we renew our commitment to a future where ‘Women Go Beyond’ will keep pushing the boundaries to achieve parity, in our communities for any person marginalized based on gender” concludes Jayawardena.
MAS Holdings’ Women Go Beyond has indeed pioneered women’s empowerment and gender equality. As it embarks on its third decade, the program continues to inspire change-makers and advocates worldwide. Here’s to 20 years of progress and the many more yet to come.