P.A.C.E. - Changing One Million Lives

PACE Changing one million lives

P.A.C.E. - Changing One Million Lives The women of P.A.C.E. each have a story

Women have played an essential role at Gap Inc. from the moment Doris Fisher helped open our doors in 1969. Today, women comprise the majority of both our employees and workers within the apparel industry; investments in women are a business imperative. We also know that women are powerful catalysts for change, and when women thrive, their communities thrive. Our business supports women’s skills development and encourages them to use their voices and dream bigger so they can help themselves, their families and communities thrive for generations. 

We want to help women find and use their voices.

Launched in 2007, our unique P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program is dedicated to supporting the women who work in the global apparel industry and within our global supply chain. Although women represent the majority of the sector’s workforce, relatively few have the opportunity to advance to management positions, and many lack access to the education and training they need to support their personal and professional growth. We developed P.A.C.E. to give these women the foundational life skills, technical training and support that will help them advance in the workplace and in their personal lives. 

We began offering P.A.C.E. in factories, and as we have developed our approach, we have expanded the program to unlock new possibilities for women and adolescent girls in surrounding communities. To date, more than 68,000 women in 12 countries have participated. 

At a glance P.A.C.E.
P.A.C.E. Video

Beyond strong partnerships with our suppliers, a key element of our successful program is collaboration with organizations that have a deep understanding of the needs of the women we aim to serve. The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), a global institute dedicated to empowering women, as well as Swasti Health Resource Centre, worked closely with our teams to design P.A.C.E., and CARE International has served as a key implementing partner for the program over the years.

Guided by firsthand stories and metrics-driven results, we are scaling P.A.C.E. beyond its initial scope. In September 2015, we announced our goal to expand the program to reach 1 million women and girls by the end of 2020. Always keeping real impact in mind, we recognize that this rapid, ambitious expansion poses challenges. To address this, we are working with our partners on innovative implementation approaches that will help us achieve the right mix of scale and impact. 

Providing up to 80 hours of classroom learning

Today, P.A.C.E. programs for women include up to 80 hours of classroom learning, interactive exercises and open discussion covering areas such as communication; problem-solving and decision-making; time and stress management; water, sanitation and hygiene; as well as additional modules when appropriate. We are currently evaluating how to maintain the program's impact, while respecting that one of the biggest challenges women face is enough time to complete responsibilities at work and at home. 

The P.A.C.E. for Girls Program is an innovative program that aims to build the skills and efficacy of young (11- to 13-year-old) and adolescent (14- to 17-year-old) girls to be confident, resourceful and able to plan for their future. The program aims to enable girls to negotiate the physical, mental and social transitions during adolescence that have important implications for outcomes in adulthood. It also aims to strengthen parent-child communications.

In addition to educating women and increasing their skills on these critical topics, the most transformative lesson P.A.C.E. delivers is knowledge of how women can advocate for themselves. We want to help women find and use their voices. 

Students and teacher in PACE class

Documenting our impact

As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of P.A.C.E. and work toward our goal of reaching 1 million women and girls, we have reflected on several key ingredients that make this program a success: our strong partnerships both internally and externally, our relationship with our key facility partners and our focus on the women of today. We also have reflected on how the lives of women have changed over the 10 years P.A.C.E. has been functioning. To ensure the greatest value to the women within the program, we are in the process of evaluating our current curriculum to ensure that it remains relevant in our rapidly changing world.

We have found that P.A.C.E. programs are most effective in communities where we have a strong presence. By focusing on our supply chain, we are better able to understand the specific needs and challenges in those areas, and by engaging with our vendors, we can support their business and ours. To date, suppliers in 16 countries are planning on or are currently implementing P.A.C.E. These suppliers report benefits in the form of improved workforce productivity and performance and greater retention of workers. P.A.C.E. strengthens our relationship with our suppliers and enhances their performance, and it also deepens the sense of meaning and purpose among our employees.

Evaluations of participants have documented our impact: Women who participate in P.A.C.E. report increased knowledge, skills and productivity, as well as higher self-esteem and confidence, as documented in the program’s evaluation results. They describe becoming better at communicating, managing their finances, taking care of their health and planning for the future. P.A.C.E. has also helped enhance women’s relationships at work, at home and in their communities. 

Women who participate in P.A.C.E. report increased knowledge, skills and productivity, as well as higher self-esteem and confidence.

Women in P.A.C.E. classroom

Gap Inc. and USAID Women + Water Global Development Alliance

In many garment-producing countries, some of women’s most significant challenges relate to water. Women bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to household responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning, which require water. According to UNICEF, women and girls globally spend more than 200 million hours collecting water each day—time that could be spent earning additional income, caring for their families or getting an education. Moreover, women, along with their families, face serious health risks due to inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, and poor understanding of healthy hygiene practices. 

In an additional effort to address these water challenges and strengthen women’s lives, we have integrated a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) curriculum into our P.A.C.E. program. The P.A.C.E. WASH curriculum is part of our core P.A.C.E. curriculum and is key to our larger Women + Water strategy, which seeks to address water issues through the lens of people and human rights.


In 2017, we announced a partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that will expand this program even further. Gap Inc. and USAID’s five-year Women + Water Global Development Alliance aims to advance the health and well-being of women, families and communities touched by the apparel industry. 

The alliance will focus on four key areas:

  1. improving health and advancing development, including access to sustainable water, sanitation, hygiene services and hard goods such as toilets and filters, and effectively managing water resources
  2. improving the quality of life and life skills of women touched by the apparel value chain
  3. developing an effective model for a systemic partnership across the apparel industry value chain to achieve development outcomes
  4. disseminating lessons learned across and beyond the apparel industry sector


“At its core, P.A.C.E. is helping women use their voices, share their dreams and own their futures. As a result, women are speaking up for themselves, their families and their communities. It’s changing lives. This ripple effect is the power of P.A.C.E.” 

Kindley Walsh Lawlor, Vice President, P.A.C.E.

We began offering P.A.C.E. in community settings in 2013 to support women outside the factory environment. We are now enhancing our approach even further to reach one million women throughout the world by end of 2020.

Alliance partners—including Water.org, CARE India, Institute for Sustainable Communities and ICRW—will draw on their complementary strengths to improve health and well-being in countries of shared interest, starting in India. 

To maximize the impact of these efforts, the Alliance is applying a three-part approach based on:

  • Gender sensitivity: While we will engage both men and women, we recognize the pivotal role that women play in society and their unique needs and opportunities. 
  • Systems thinking: We understand that a variety of interdependent factors can determine the behaviors of individuals, and we recognize 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.
  • Flexibility: The program will allow us to learn while doing, and we will adjust as the program evolves.