Happy International Women’s Day! This day is such a fantastic opportunity to inspire, encourage and lift up women. It’s a wonderful time to look back at how far we’ve come and celebrate our achievements. But it’s also an important day to look at the issues of inequality still faced by so many women today.
With this in mind, the inequality of the fashion industry is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
In the garment industry 80% of workers are women. Therefore the majority of clothes we buy on the high street are made by women. Women who are often not paid for months on end due to the high demand for cheap clothing. Factories often can’t afford to make garments and pay a fare wage. And even when workers are paid it’s barely enough for the garment workers to live on or feed their families.
There is little or no safety regulations in these factories, causing fatal accidents such as fires and collapsed buildings. Women are forced to work in unsafe environments where factory owners have little regard for their wellbeing or safety. Foremen in charge of the factory floor are nearly always men and sexual harassment, rape and abuse are a regular occurrence for the female garment workers.
In Guangdong, China young women face 150 hours of overtime each month. 60% have no contract and 90% no access to social insurance. And this situation isn’t unusual, you will see the same things happening in factories all over the world.
Each time we buy cheap, fast fashion from the high street we are funding the abuse of thousands of women. So this International Women’s Day I wanted to encourage us all to stop buying into an industry that exploits the rights of women. The choices we make have a profound effect on the lives of women all over the world. We need to stand together united as women and commit to buying into a better future for all of us.
“It isn’t enough just looking for quality in the products we buy, we must ensure that there is quality in the lives of the people who make them” – Orsola De Castro
Sign up for regular updates from Tearfund