Bangladesh has 4 million garment workers, making it the second-largest garment manufacturer in the world, next to China. But did you know that 4/5 of all its garment workers are women who live, on average, on $100USD a month?
This is their harsh reality: living month to month and with little to no savings. Many of these women are supporting their families, not to mention their extended family as well.
The Pandemic certainly didn’t help matters. In March, many factories were forced to close, leaving these workers even more vulnerable with absolutely no unemployment benefits. With no money, how can they be expected to pay rent? Or provide for their child’s schooling? Or afford basic household utilities?
In addition, many companies canceled large orders and refused to pay up on orders already made. If you are wondering how this is possible, the clothing industry is one that works on debt and borrowed money. This means brands do not have to pay for their goods until they are finished. Some brands, such as Adidas, H&M, Nike, and Zara, have paid back their debts. Many others, to this date, have not.
Every year on April 24th, Fashion Revolution Week is held to commemorate the 1132 people killed in the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013. The event is what inspired global brands to promise to do better and act more responsibly. Unfortunately, many of them have backed away from their commitments due to concerns over their own debts.
While the Bangladesh government did step in with aid, this aid was only enough to support each worker for one month. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have also pledged aid. This helps, but it stretches thin in a situation that is extremely volatile.
The reality is, there is still so much work to be done. You can be part of the change.
If it’s within your means, we urge you to donate directly to non-profit organizations that are providing support to garment workers whose jobs have been affected. Some options include AWAJ Foundation, The Garment Worker Centre, GoodWeave International, World Fair Trade Organization, Remake our World, and CARE.
All these organizations are fighting for decent working conditions, committed to holding corporations responsible, and dedicated to Fair Trade laws. More than this, they are stopping at nothing to amplify the voices of vulnerable workers.
We should all be committed to listening and learning. Do your research. Ask questions. Challenge brands who can do better. To learn more, we encourage you to check out this Brand Tracker and support only brands who are treating their workers fairly. We also encourage you to educate yourselves through platforms such as Justice in Fashion, and Fashion Revolution.
Finally, your signature can make a difference. Please take the time to sign this petition and share it with your family and friends. Feeling beautiful should not come at the expense of exploited people. Nor should it destroy our planet. We can all do better to transform the fashion world - starting today.