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8 March 2019

Making fashion fair for everyone

By Margaux Bartzen

The fashion industry faces huge challenges when it comes to fair working practices, but Fair Wear Foundation knows a better way is possible. Together with member brands, Fair Wear Foundation finds and tests new solutions to improve supply chains and to lead the industry towards a fairer way to make clothes.

“I thought all the supervisors were men. I never thought women could be supervisors,” stated Amala, a woman garment worker.

Violence against women and sexual harassment are widespread in garment factories. In India, an estimated 60-70% of garment employees are women, yet men inhabit almost all supervisory and managerial roles. While men receive opportunities to climb the ladder if they show interest and potential, women are often stuck at the production level. To address this inequality, Fair Wear Foundation conducted a Supervisory Skills Training in Indian garment factories giving women an opportunity to gain confidence and move into supervisory roles. All participants, men and women, were educated to identify situations of violence and harassment in their workplaces. The training proved to be a successful way to reduce violence and harassment in the workplace over time.

“I thought all the supervisors were men. I never thought women could be supervisors”

Woman Garment Worker

Moreover, living wages remain an impossible dream for most garment workers. Fair Wear Foundation works to uncover and overcome the many obstacles that prevent garment workers from earning enough to cover their monthly living costs. The latest addition to the organisation’s Living Wage toolbox is the Labour Minute Calculator. This new tool was launched to coincide with the recent minimum wage increase in Bangladesh. It helps brands and factories figure out how much more it will cost to produce garments under the new minimum wage. With the higher cost of labour comes the responsibility for brands to revise their pricing levels, and Fair Wear Foundation also urged brands to support factories in Bangladesh when garment workers went on strike. Fair Wear Foundation intends to make the Labour Minute Calculator tool available for other production countries in the future.

Find out more about Fair Wear Foundation at Innovation Forum during Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019, the world’s leading business event for sustainability in fashion, organised by Global Fashion Agenda.