“Buy less, choose well and do it yourself.” – Vivienne Westwood
The textile and clothing industry is the second largest employer after agriculture in the developing world and a large percentage of this workforce are women. Most people only think of clothing as a way to either stay warm or as a fashion statement. Fashion is inspiring but we also have to think what how the clothes are made or who made it. More than likely, a woman has made that piece of clothing you are wearing possible considering that about 80% of garment workers worldwide are females.
To tackle these challenges that women face while using fashion as a vehicle for development – one such example is Indian garment manufacturer Shahi Exports. This garment manufacturer was selected by fashion brand Gap as one of the factories that would run its Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (PACE) programme. This programme was designed to put women through training in modules such as financial and legal literacy.
Research has shown that empowering and investing in women has a cumulative bonus such as women spending their income on their children and families on education, health and nutrition, bringing long term positive change and prosperity to communities. So what are three simple steps that we can follow to effect positive changes?
1. Learn about the brands you are wearing.
Ask questions if the brands that you are wearing are making it a priority to work with these women by supporting them or giving them safe working conditions. As the sustainable fashion industry grows, it is easier to find brands that have transparency towards their products.
2. Finding brands that create their products with a purpose
Figure out who is the designer behind your clothes. The Rana Plaza catastrophe is an event that has opened the world’s eyes towards conditions that people had to work in and the unethical practices of large international brands. So take the time to research and support designers that create their products with transparency.
3. Utilizing your purchasing power
What do you stand for? What is your purpose and what are your values? Are you someone who feels better when you choose something that is sustainable and is changing someone else’s life for the better? You have their weight and if you choose to use your purchasing power to curve demand towards sustainable business practices, more brands will change their production processes and stop exploiting workers in third world countries.
"Hi, I'm Rev, 24 years old and a Master's student at Murdoch University, Western Australia. My hobbies include writing and baking of all sorts! Education has always played an important role in my life and B.O.B works towards that same goal of raising awareness and funds for the education of children in refugee camps. You get to work alongside selfless people that share the same perspective.