HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN FASHION SUPPLY CHAINS
Stay Wild is committed to providing women makers in London with dignified jobs in safe working conditions. However, this is in protest of the typically exploitative fashion industry that gives little care to its human rights violations within its supply chains.
We were reminded of these violations on Sunday 8th December, when it was reported that at least 43 people were killed in a factory fire in Dehli. 50 labourers had been sleeping on the third floor as their workload did not permit them to return home safely after the day’s work on Saturday 7th December.
Driven by the lives lost in the recent Dehli factory fire, today we’re focusing on the violence far too often endured by the women behind our clothes, and bringing you the low-down on three organisations working to end it.
How common is violence in the supply chain?
CARE's research in Cambodia with women garment workers in 2017 revealed that one in three of them reported being sexually harassed, which cost companies $89 million in lost productivity
Oxfam’s research showed that 35% of female garment workers in Bangladesh have experienced physical abuse
Ethical Trade reports that one in 14 female garment workers in Bangalore have experienced physical violence, and none of the perpetrators have suffered criminal charges
Is boycotting the answer?
As consumers it can feel like the obvious solution is to boycott brands producing their product in these violent conditions, but this doesn’t necessarily promote change within the fashion industry.
Considering that garment workers worldwide are overwhelmingly female - in Bangladesh and Vietnam, 80% of garment workers are women; 71% in Sri Lanka; 90% in Cambodia - the fashion industry has potential to allow women to thrive independently.
By all means, love what you’ve got, swap, rent and thrift your clothing in protest of the violent nature of the fashion industry. But where possible, support and spread the word about initiatives striving to improve working conditions and empower female garment workers.
CARE’s Made by Women initiative ambitiously aims to economically empower 8 million female garment workers across Asia by 2021. The organisation is achieving this goal by working with governments to foster policy change, strengthening women’s organising and leadership, and working with the private sector to improve practices in global supply chains.
Donate to CARE to support the Made by Women initiative, as well as other programmes devoted to empowering women and ending poverty.
2. Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity
The centre provides legal services, and runs workshops to empower female garment workers and equip them with the tools to demand decent working conditions void of exploitation and violence. The C&A Foundation, which works to see a fair and sustainable fashion industry through its grants and consultancy, also supports BCWS.
Find out how to donate and volunteer here.
The Fairtrade Foundation implements various projects dedicated to empowering women, and protecting them from violence. Most importantly, the Fairtrade Standards, with which all companies wishing to be Fairtrade certified must comply, are unwavering when it comes to discrimination, harassment and violence. Amongst the standards for hired labour are no discrimination, no abuse of any kind, no tolerance of sexual harassment and sexual harassment policy.
The standards for the textile industry additionally include women focused training and capacity building. When women are better trained professionally, they are more likely to stand up for themselves in instances of discrimination and violence.
Donate to support the Fairtrade Foundation mission, and check out its certified products.
Finally, in the spirit of women supporting women, check out Stay Wild’s latest release – the Leva beach bag! It is made in collaboration with BOMBOM Morocco, a female founded brand that is all about female empowerment and sustainability.
How are you supporting a fairer, safer fashion industry for women?
This blog post was contributed by Zainab. Zainab is a freelance writer in women’s rights, ethical fashion, and sustainability, and currently volunteers at Traid.