Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This year’s theme, Leave No One Behind, is especially poignant. 2017 has seen an unparalleled outcry against sexual harassment that has spread across the world. Millions of women have gone public with their stories of harassment and assault, and, in the wake of the burgeoning number of women who have come forward, the #MeToo campaign emerged. This hashtag was shared millions of times in a few short weeks, and trended in 85 countries. What before was a faceless statistic—one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or emotionally abused in her lifetime, most often by a partner—has become our friends and family. The campaign highlighted the fact that sexual harassment is an everyday occurrence for women in all spheres of life, but we cannot forget that it particularly affects the most marginalised and vulnerable. There are many women worldwide who are still unable to speak out, and many who will not believed if they do.
Leave No One Behind is a reminder that we must make the world free of violence for all women, including those who are commonly ignored—the refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters.
Women represent the majority of garment workers; approximately 20 million women work in garment factories, mostly in concentrated in Asia, where the majority of our clothes are produced. Currently, women make up 70% of the world’s poor, and this is also most pronounced in Asia, the continent with the biggest gender wage gap. Gender-based violence in garment factories is a prevalent but preventable issue. In order to Leave No One Behind, it is necessary to alleviate the conditions that make women garment workers vulnerable—poverty, lack of education and access to power.
One of the ways that FWF is doing this is through our supervisor training programme. Along with Indian partners SAVE and CIVIDEP, FWF trains women to become supervisors and re-educates current supervisors on communication and management, with an emphasis on anti-harassment. The aim is to reduce workplace violence and economic discrimination against women in garment factories.
To learn more about FWF’s work in combatting violence against women, keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds during the 16 Days of Activism between now and 10 December.