P.A.C.E. - Empowering Women

PACE Changing one million lives

P.A.C.E. - Empowering Women The women of P.A.C.E. each have a story

Launched in 2007, our innovative Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program was initially created to support women in the global apparel industry. 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 skills 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, as documented in the program’s evaluation results. We began delivering P.A.C.E. in our vendors’ facilities in 2007, and expanded the program to community settings in 2013 to unlock new possibilities for women and adolescent girls.

Gap Inc. believes that all women deserve to reach their full potential and to find and use their voices.

Being involved in a transformational journey themselves, P.A.C.E. trained women had an aspiration for their daughters to participate in a similar program. In 2016, Gap Inc. expanded the P.A.C.E. programming to include adolescent girls in two age groups (11-13 and 14-17) as a result of the vision that P.A.C.E. graduates had seen for their own daughters to possess better life skills, to be bolder, braver and able to negotiate their problems more effectively. The P.A.C.E. girls programming has been piloted in four countries: China, Haiti, India and Bangladesh and scaled in 2018 to geographies where P.A.C.E. is implemented.

In 2017, we implemented a new strategy that will help us grow P.A.C.E. by forming new partnerships, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our program management and through the development of a new learning management program. We seek to bring P.A.C.E. to as many women and girls as possible. By 2022, over one million women will have participated in this life-changing program, and we anticipate that many more will be served in the next 3-5 years after that. We note that this is a shift in the goal announced previously (one million women by 2020) but given learnings from our scaling efforts, and the fact that we did not want to sacrifice impact in order to meet the deadline, we knew this was right choice for Gap Inc. and P.A.C.E.

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 and girls find and use their voices.

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

Documenting our Impact

As we evaluate our programs, we have reflected on several key ingredients that make P.A.C.E. a success: our strong partnerships both internally and externally, our relationship with our key vendor partners and our focus on the women of today. Since the lives of women have changed since we launched P.A.C.E., we continue to evaluate our curriculum to ensure that it remains relevant in our rapidly changing world.

Over the years, P.A.C.E. has evolved from teams that focused on specific local management to a global program that can better share lessons across geographies. This helps us develop approaches to contextualize the content to fit local priorities, while building out resources for a global scale. We are developing a framework for a new community of practice that will coordinate and build consistency in our systems and make it easier for P.A.C.E. teams as well as our implementing partners globally to share tools, knowledge and resources such as master trainers.


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


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 2022.

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.