Today FWF celebrates International Women’s Day, a yearly event honouring the political, economic, cultural and social achievements of women.
This year’s theme, ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’, focuses on the advancement of women and gender parity in the workforce. Equality is necessary for an economy that is sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous. International Women’s Day asks us to #BeBoldForChange—to take bold action in order to achieve the improvements we want to see in the lives of women worldwide.
The majority of workers in the global garment industry are women, yet they are underrepresented in supervisory roles and managerial roles. This results in low wages, reduced attention to women-specific issues such as maternity leave, and a situation that leaves women in vulnerable positions—increasing the risk of sexual harassment.
FWF believes in the limitless potential of women; empowering women in the labour structure is the strongest path to sustainable change in the industry. But it is not just women who need to take up this call to arms, it is all of us.
Brands need to enact bold changes.
Consumers need to make bold choices.
Factories need to take bold steps.
How is FWF contributing to change?
Since 2014, Fair Wear Foundation, along with Indian partners SAVE and CIVIDEP, has led a training programme for factory supervisors in the garment industry. One focus of the programme is to train women to become supervisors; the other is to re-educate current supervisors on communication and management, with emphasis on anti-harassment. The aim is to reduce workplace violence and economic discrimination against women in garment factories.
The project is being implemented in both Bangalore and Tirupur in India, where cultural norms heavily influence the working conditions for women. As Gopinath Parakuni, General Secretary for Cividep India, explains, “Most of the women also come from rural areas, so for them to assert their rights, to know their rights is not easy. These are very deep rooted, and to remove that might take time. But I would say this is a very good beginning. Workers are more confident to say what happens within the factory.”
Mohana, age 20, has recently completed FWF’s supervisor-training programme, ranking top in her group. She is keen to progress further, with the ultimate goal of becoming a production manager. “I thought all supervisors were men,” she says. “I never thought girls could be supervisors. In training, I came to know that women can be not only supervisors, but also production managers and general managers, and that women can rise to all those levels.”
This is just one of many ways that FWF is working to promote gender parity in the garment industry. To find out more about FWF’s efforts, please take a look at our resource kit on gender-based violence, the artwork focus group, and our publication on ‘Standing Firm Against Factory-Floor Harassment‘.