Online version of Factive’s report for the ILO on gender equality in the Myanmar garment industry.

The ILO is pleased to share the online version of its recently published report on gender equality in the Myanmar garment industry.

“We found that human resources managers admit they prefer to employ women. Managers tend to draw on assumptions about innate gender characteristics whereby women are seen as more docile and naturally more capable of completing work tasks that require attention to detail, such as sewing,” explains Dean Laplonge, the author of the research.

Weaving Gender is the result of many months of meticulous research inside factories and in stakeholder forums where preliminary findings of the gender assessment were discussed.

The online version is available here.

Weaving Gender with the ILO in Myanmar

Factive’s principal consultant, Dean Laplonge, yesterday presented a summary of his research results at the official launch of the report Weaving Gender.

This report provides detailed information on the results of a gender-equality assessment carried out in 16 Yangon-based factories in Myanmar’s garment sector.

Weaving Gender is the result of many months of meticulous research and stakeholders forums where the preliminary findings of the gender assessment were discussed. The ILO Improving labour relations for decent work and sustainable development in the Myanmar garment industry (ILO-GIP), which receives funding support from the Swedish international development agency (Sida) and H&M, is pleased to share a picture of the industry which, despite the challenges, is encouraging. We invite all the industry stakeholders to join hands in the spirit of social dialogue to ensure that workers in the industry, especially women, can enjoy decent work.

You can download a copy of the English version of the report using the link below. The Myanmar language version will be available soon.

Gender Based Violence Awareness Raising

The new toolkit for raising awareness on gender based violence in conflict-affected Syrian communities was launched at the Topkapı Sarayı restaurant in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Friday. This marked the start of 16 Days of Activism to tackle violence against women and girls in Syria.

The toolkit – Hearing and Being Voices in Syria: Working Together to Raise Awareness on GBV – was developed by Factive’s consultant Dean Laplonge for the GBV Sub-Cluster in June this year. It provides comprehensive programs for raising awareness about GBV with women, men, adolescent girls and adolescent boys in Syria. Each program aims to deliver seven key GBV messages to the target audiences using a total of 84 participatory activities spread across 21 sessions in each program.

The seven key GBV messages are:

  • Key Message A: The root cause of GBV is gender inequality
  • Key Message B: Knowledge of and access to GBV services can save lives
  • Key Message C: Mutual support can help prevent GBV and ensure good responses to GBV
  • Message D: Child marriage is a form of GBV
  • Key Message E: Domestic violence is a form of GBV
  • Key Message F: It is not shameful to discuss sexuality and sexual violence
  • Key message G: Virginity testing is a form of GBV

Dean delivered the first train-the-trainer course this week in Gaziantep for representatives of some of the Sub-cluster organizations.

He will be working closely with UNFPA and Global Communities to continue this training this coming week, and to assist with developing an inter-agency roll-out plan to promote consistent and effective delivery of the messages throughout Syria.


The third annual Women in Business and Leadership Development Conference was recently held in Yangon, Myanmar. Factive consultants were in attendance to deliver early findings from the Respectful Workplaces in Myanmar research study, supported by the IFC and the DaNa Facility.  Many thanks to AustCham Myanmar for organising a great conference and for allowing us to participate.

From left to right: Moh Moh Aung, Thiri San & Dean Laplonge

The research team at Factive would also like to thank everyone who has helped to promote and support this project. Interest has been extremely strong compared to similar studies of this type with over 50 organisations across a range of sectors signing up to participate. Our national consultants, Thiri  and Moh Moh, have done an incredible job managing the extensive data collection work.

In January, we will be ready to start sharing the research results with participating businesses and other stakeholders. We plan to hold a workshop with each of these groups to discuss what the results mean and how they can inform future work to create more respectful workplaces in Myanmar.

A small selection of photos of the event are provided below, courtesy of the event organiser, AustCham Myanmar. Photographer: Sebastian Higgison, Storgaard Photography.

A successful strategy for reducing workplace bullying?

Glenn D Rolfsen is a psychotherapist and leadership consultant who works in the corporate health service in Oslo. In this TEDx Talk he outlines a simple and effective strategy for reducing backbiting within a group or organisation. 

If you are wondering what backbiting is, Rolfsen defines it as “talking negatively about a third person who isn’t present”. In other words, it’s gossip. 

In many jurisdictions, government regulatory bodies exist with the ability to deal with workplace bulling complaints. In Australia, this is the Fair Work Commission. The commissioner, Danny Cloghan, is on record as saying that:

Bullying can manifest itself in many ways. I consider it uncontroversial to say that spreading misinformation or ill-will against others is bullying […]. Scurrilous denigration of a worker in the workplace would certainly fall within the boundary of bullying.

Employers have an obligation to address practices such as backbiting in their workplaces. In some cases, this is so they can comply with workplace regulations about providing a safe work environment. In all cases, it’s to ensure these kinds of behaviors do not negatively affect employee well-being, employee performance and overall business productivity.  

Here, Rolfsen presents his 6-step strategy for reducing backbiting:

In his Tedx Talk, Rolfsen quotes a short aphorism attributed to Socrates, which, although possibly a miss-attribution, is nonetheless instructive.

In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied, “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

‘Triple filter?” asked the acquaintance.

“That’s right,” Socrates continued, “Before you talk to me about Diogenes let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it.”

“All right,” said Socrates, “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued, “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?”

#MeToo in Review

A year after #MeToo started trending on Twitter, an article in The Economist suggests that “this year-long storm of allegations, confessions and firings has actually made Americans more sceptical about sexual harassment.”

YouGov surveys of 1,500 Amercians on their attitudes towards the topic conducted in November 2017 and again in September 2018 found that attitudes had shifted against the victims over that period. The attitudes of female respondents had shifted more than those of males.


One of the largest changes relates to the increasing perception that “False accusations of sexual assault are a bigger problem than unreported assaults.” The Economist article points out that (according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre) false reports of sexual assault are relatively rare, whereas 63% of sexual assaults are never reported to police.

We can also observe that there was a much stronger split of attitudes between Trump voters and Clinton voters than there was between the attitudes of men and women. This partisan difference was very much on display during the recent Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.

Thinking Outside the Man Box

A new Australian survey has found that men who identify with a ‘traditional’ definition of masculinity are significantly more likely to do harm to themselves and others. 

The survey of 1,000 young men aged 18 to 30 was commissioned by the Jesuit Social Service’s Men’s Project. Men who expressed personal beliefs that had higher than average agreement with traditional masculine ideals were described as being in the ‘Man Box’.

46% of men inside the Man Box had made sexual comments to women they didn’t know in a public place in the past month, compared to 7% who were outside the Man Box. There are also striking differences with respect to the incidence of online and physical bullying, and even thoughts of suicide (see table below).

Table source:

This research brings attention to an underlying cause of gender-based violence – the attitudes of men who live inside the Man Box and who practice a toxic form of masculinity. The findings point to the need to continue to address violence against women by paying attention to the behaviors and attitudes of men, and encouraging them to think outside the Man Box.

For further information on this research,  visit the Men’s Project website, or read this summary of the research findings at The Conversation written by Michael Flood, Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology.

Seeking Myanmar Businesses to Participate in Research Project

Researching Respectful Workplaces in Myanmar

The ‘Respectful Workplaces in Myanmar’ research project is getting underway soon. Data collection activities will run in September and October throughout Myanmar. Factive is undertaking this research for the International Finance Corporation and the DaNa Facility.

The research is targeting businesses across a number of sectors, including finance, retail, agribusiness and tourism. It aims to better understand how bullying and sexual harassment affect employees and business productivity.

Participating firms will have the opportunity to learn about the benefits and best practices of respectful workplaces through a free presentation in their workplace. The research team will also run a variety of activities in workplaces to collect data from employees. Activities include surveys, focus groups discussions and safety walks. The research will be used to inform future programs and initiatives to promote respectful workplaces in Myanmar.

Businesses operating in Myanmar are encouraged to get involved. The research is anonymous. The names of employees will not be recorded, and no information received from businesses will be shared with anyone outside the research team.

An information sheet for potential participants is available by clicking on this link: Respectful Workplaces Research Information Sheet.

Enquiries can be made through Factive’s website contact page.



Transgender Training in NYC

The Transgender Training Institute Banner

Factive consultant Dean Laplonge just finished attending the ‘Transgender Training of Trainers Intensive’ 3-day program in NYC and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We encourage you to check out their website for more details and information if you are interested in learning more about the Transgender Training Institute (TTI) and their excellent courses. The following content about the TTI is reposted from their Facebook page:

By Transgender & Non-Binary People, For the Benefit of Transgender & Non-Binary Communities


The Transgender Training Institute (TTI) provides training and consulting services that are informed/provided by transgender and non-binary people, for the benefit of transgender and non-binary individuals and communities. We work across the United States, providing services including: expert facilitation of transgender-related professional development trainings, training of trainers/facilitators (TOTs), ally empowerment classes, online course design, climate assessments and technical assistance. We combine our topical expertise, formal training as educators, and decades of facilitation experience to provide your participants with powerful professional development trainings that inspire change.

Our hallmark program, the Transgender Training of Trainers Intensive is a three day program that helps transgender people, their loved ones and cisgender allies increase skills and success with teaching others about transgender people’s lives and experiences. We break down a “Trans 101” training, segment by segment, to help our participants understand the best ways to leverage their power as an educator to inspire advocacy and change. In 2018, we are proud to be taking our open enrollment courses to new locations!

Our newest program Ally/Advocate Training Camp, is a 15-hour course designed for individuals who want to be better allies to members of the transgender and non-binary communities – personally or professionally.

We offer both courses in Philadelphia and other locations by request. We are also able to come to you for an onsite course. Check out our website for more details and information!

Launch of Respectful Workplaces Research Program

On June 21, the first open forum was held for the Respectful Workplaces in Myanmar research project during an IFC Gender Awareness Workshop in Yangon, Myanmar. During the session, participants from a variety of organisations were provided an opportunity to learn about the project and discuss possible synergies. Several organisations were represented at the workshop, including the IFC, the DaNa Facility, Akhaya Women and Factive.

The majority of the workshop was devoted to learning about the work and approach of Akhaya Women:

For many years, Akhaya Women have worked to empower Myanmar women. They provide tools and support mechanisms for women in Myanmar to challenge gender stereotypes, to bring gender equality into their family homes and communities and to campaign for a safer and more equal environment for women to live in. The Akhaya model works to strengthen women’s self confidence through awareness, empowerment and experiential learning.

We would encourage anyone looking to learn more about women’s empowerment and gender equality in Myanmar to check out their website (pictured):