Corporate Action on WASH in Supply Chains Case Study: Gap Inc.

Because many sourcing countries face challenges in accessing WASH, Gap Inc. invests in programs that not only ensure that the people who make their clothes work in safe, fair conditions, but that they are also treated with dignity and respect.


Gap, Inc. is investing in a variety of programs in many sourcing countries that face challenges in accessing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

Gap, Inc. approach to WASH and wellbeing is primarily through its Code of Vendor Conduct (COVC) and its its P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program. It also supports WASH through   a variety of  other partnerships and grants.

Gap Inc’s  Women + Water programme helps communities gain access to WASH, while also addressing the water impacts created from production.

In 2017, Gap, Inc. launched a 5 year partnership with theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) called the Women + Water Alliance. The alliance will work with, CARE, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to make advances in:

Improving health and advancing development, including through access to sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services, and effectively managing water resources;

Improving the quality of life and life skills of women touched by the apparel value chain; and

Developing an effective model for a systemic partnership that works across the apparel industry to achieve development outcomes.

sharing findings from this new partnership across the apparel industry sector and beyond.

Country(ies) where the intervention is taking place


P.A.C.E.: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Haiti.

Lead Organization

Gap Inc.

Who is involved?

Swasti Health, WaterAid, Jaldahara Foundation, Water Health International, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),, CARE, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).


Education and knowledge about water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH);

Improved access to clean water and sanitation.

The goal of the five year Women + Water Global Development Alliance is to improve and sustain the health and well-being of women and communities touched by the apparel industry. This goal will be supported by three objectives:

  1. Advance women’s self-efficacy and agency through P.A.C.E.
  2. Accelerate women’s access to sustainable WASH services
  3. Aggregate stakeholders to improve water supply and sanitation financing availability and management of community water resources

Target markets

Apparel value chain (factories and communities around mills and cotton).

Workplace Setting

Factory, peri-urban, farm.

Scope of intervention

Suppliers, communities.

Which elements of WASH are covered?

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Hygiene Education.

Which elements of the Framework for Business Action on WASH are covered?

Drive systemic change; best practice; taking action; engaging with stakeholders; prioritizing actions; understanding the issue

Methodology and tools that have been developed or are planned

Management Information System (MIS) for WASH.


The Women + Water Alliance seeks to create impact by leveraging the following approaches:
– A systems-based approach which understands that a variety of interdependent factors can determine the behaviors of individuals and recognizes that changes at the individual, organizational, community, and systems levels are often needed to sustainably improve the lives of women, their families, and their communities
– A gender-sensitive approach that recognizes the pivotal role that women play in society and their unique needs and opportunities while engaging both men and women
– An adaptive and flexible approach that will enable the program to learn while doing,
and adjust as the program evolves

Indicators/metrics that have been developed to monitor/track progress

Internal audit for COVC; independent assessment of P.A.C.E. by ICRW; WASH indicators # of women and communities.

The evaluation process

Third-party audit (COVC); ICRW (P.A.C.E.); in-development (WASH).

Outcomes, successes and ongoing challenges

The company’s Code of Vendor Conduct (COVC) outlines the requirements of its business partners to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilets to their employees working in garment factories. Gap Inc.’s COVC helps to ensure that tier supply chain ‘cut and sew’ factories provide access to clean water and toilets, and that levels of access are measured.

Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.):

Gap Inc. has incorporated a WASH curriculum into their P.A.C.E. program, which provides life and work skills training to help women achieve their goals both at home and in their careers.

Since 2007, more than 50,000 women in 12 countries have participated in Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. programme.

From India to Cambodia, more than 25,000 women in the garment industry from seven countries have participated in this 65- to 80-hour workplace education initiative since it launched in 2007.

In 2015, Gap, Inc. announced a goal to reach one million women by 2020 through P.A.C.E.

The programme is independently evaluated by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), which has found improved productivity and retention, and reduced absenteeism, as well as increased self-esteem, self-efficacy and confidence in women workers.

ICRW’s research findings demonstrate that P.A.C.E. is an effective, sustainable and scalable model that yields high returns for women, their families and the businesses where they work.

In communities in India where P.A.C.E. is active, Gap, Inc. are coupling the P.A.C.E. module on safe water practices with efforts to obtain community access to clean water. With their partners, Swasti Health Resource Center and Water Health International, Gap, Inc. are supporting the construction of water filtration plants and rainwater collection infrastructure. These water filtration plants to date have provided clean, safe water to more than 17,000 people in communities in India. With WaterAid, they are delivering additional training on safe water practices.

Gap Inc.’s Women + Water programme and efforts to support WASH also include small grants and partnerships.

Links to learn more


Lisa Hook, (Sustainable Innovation, Gap Inc.).

Additional information


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