Happy International Women’s Day to each and every one of us around the world today!
Whilst today is a day of celebrating womanhood, I felt it is also a day to reflect and remind ourselves of how International Women’s Day began and the issues that are yet to be resolved 110 years on.
In 1908 on this day 15,000 women garment workers took to the streets of New York City, raising their voices to gain equality in employment and in casting political votes. The following year a 20,000 strong march of female garment workers relayed a similar protest against the sweatshops for which they worked for in unsafe conditions.
Today we live in a world where there are around 70 million garment workers employed in the industry globally, 90% of whom are women and almost all of whom earn below the living wage in extremely poor conditions.
What has perhaps changed drastically since the implementation of IWD is the fact that women living in developed countries now have 70-80% of the purchasing power across the board.
When it comes to our consumption of fashion, especially as we are the gender that spends 4.5 times more on clothes, is making the decision to put the power we have into better use. We need to become more conscious in thinking about the many women who perhaps made the clothing we would like to so readily buy.
This is not to say that we are to blame for indulging, there are many factors that influence us to do so, some of which are:
- Brands constantly targeting us
- Ever changing trends
- Long standing pressures from media to be looking ‘in the now’
- Emotional purchases to uplift our spirits when they sag
- Year round sales
- An inbox full of promotional codes and discounts
… And MUCH MUCH MORE!
The moment we, as women, choose to give in to these and buy fast fashion that makes us feel good about ourselves, is when we also choose to accept that many women in the supply chain have been overworked and underpaid to make that piece of clothing. As women, we must accept that the low price we pay to be on trend, comes hand in hand with the cost of millions of women risking their lives to make that trend materialise.
So today is our day to acknowledge who we are as women, and to recognize the power we each have to better our lives, and the lives of others around us in one way or another.
The next time we are looking to buy an item of clothing, let us ask ourselves these three simple questions before doing so:
- Where has the garment been made? If it is in countries like Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia ect, it is likely that it has been made in sweatshop conditions.
- Is the price of the garment too good to be true? If, for example, a printed/embellished blouse costs around £25, it is possible that the brand is cutting cost of production by using factories who subcontract to cheap labour in order to mass produce.
- Can I look for something similar by a brand that is more transparent? Take the time to research ethical and sustainable brands both locally and globally. Though you may be paying a greater price, the feeling of being satisfied that workers are receiving fair pay and the environment is being considered is second to none.
Let’s celebrate the women who are role models in our lives, but let’s also remember the millions who need us to silently protest so that they may be heard.