Women’s Rights & Female Exploitation in Fashion
Let’s dive deeper into the essential topic of women’s rights & female exploitation in fashion because it matters. And it matters to everyone.
Why is it essential for everyone?
- Women’s Rights are Human Rights: we need equality to have a free and equal society.
- It is a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security.
- We’re stronger when we work together: individual activists and targeted campaigns should come together to have a more significant effect.
How does it connect to intersectionality?
Women cannot separate numerous injustices because they experience them intersectionally. For example, while all women are subject to the wage gap, some women are affected even more harshly due to their race.
How are women's rights violated?
It happens to women and girls in disproportionate numbers. Globally, on average, 30% of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence committed against them by their partner. It is the responsibility of a state to protect women from gender-based violence.
Sexual Violence and Harassment
Sexual harassment means any unwelcome sexual behaviour. That could be physical conduct and advances, demanding or requesting sexual favours, or using inappropriate sexual language. Although men and boys can also be victims of sexual violence, women and girls are overwhelmingly affected by this unwanted behaviour.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
In many countries around the world, women are denied their rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. Lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex women and gender non-conforming people face violence, exclusion, harassment, and discrimination.
Women are the subject of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. One way of illustrating this is to look at the gender pay gap. Recent figures show that women currently earn roughly 77% of what men earn for the same work. That leads to a lifetime of financial disparity for women, prevents them from fully exercising independence, and means an increased risk of poverty in later life.
Female exploitation in fashion
Why is fashion a women's rights issue?
While fashion likes to showcase itself as empowering women, it is false in many cases. Ironically, we find basic t-shirts with feminist slogans while those fast fashion companies turn their heads from seeing what is happening to women in their supply chain.
“It is overwhelmingly women who do the insufficiently paid, low-skilled manual labour, and almost universally men, who are in positions of power over them. The brands benefit from this model and its lower production costs because they know that women will accept poorly paid work to support their families.”
- Bobbie Sta Maria, Senior Researcher at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Sexual violence in the workplace
Sexual violence occurs every day in many factories, such as in Lesotho garment factories, famous for making jeans for well-known brands. Women are forced to please their supervisors to get or even keep a job.
Unsafe working conditions
Workers have to work in unsafe, cramped, dirty, and poorly ventilated factories, not to mention tragedies such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013.
According to the Oxfam Report “What She Makes”, 99-100% of fast fashion workers in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam work for less than a living wage.
What can we do?
- Spread the word to as many people as you can, and encourage them to check out projects like Fashion Revolution (@Fash_Rev), Clean Clothes Campaign (@CleanClothescampaign) or the Good On You app (@GoodOnYou_app).
- Donate when you can to emergency relief funds and ongoing charities close to your heart.
- Support brands supporting workers, paying and treating them fairly.