Normally, we keep this topic back for International Women’s day in March. But this year, as we finally start to move forward (all be it very slowly) with new laws and regulation around sustainability, we thought it was as important to highlight this! The fact that it is currently about 60–70 million garment workers worldwide, and 75% are women!
WE WANTED YOU TO JUST REALLY THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A SECOND. JUST TAKE A MINUTE AND REALLY CONSIDER WHAT THAT MEANS.
75% of Textiles and Fashion workers are women, but are 75% of Textiles and Fashion business owners? Not by along shot! Textiles and fashion workers are some of the most exploited and abused in the world and we are as a sector one of the worst offenders when it come to Modern Slavery.
So what we have effectively is a globe supply chain built on exploiting women (not just women but mostly) without nearly enough voices of women involved in decision making.
Textiles and fashion machinists have the highest fatality rate of any female occupation! Women working in Britain’s garment factories are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the average woman worker (Office for National Statistics, ONS) - a figure higher than for women working in at-risk sectors like caring, leisure and other service occupations (27.3 deaths per 100,000).
The textiles and fashion industry runs on women, plain and simple. We need to acknowledge that fact. Textiles and Fashion suffers from deeply engrained sexism that informs every aspect of how our industry is structured and that includes at a regulatory and government level. It’s so deeply embedded in the fibres of what we do that we barely even seem to comprehend the extent of the issue.
Frankly, we will never be able to make the critical changes needed to transform the sustainability of our sector and the lives of those working in it until we accept this and do something about it. Put simply, how do we expect a sector that treats women so poorly to stand any chance of adopting more sustainable practises? Well, frankly a lot of us don’t, not with the industry in its current state.
We however feel this is one simple thing we can all done to help; empower the women in textiles and fashion wherever and however possible. Kalopsia is an almost completely female team, from 3 of our 4 directors to all of our Production Technicians. All of our teams members are involved in decision making and help inform and improve our practices. Helping to reduce waste, increase effectively and improve working conditions.
A sustainable future for textiles and fashion has to have workers (mostly women) at it’s centre and in the majority of its leadership roles not just on the factory floor. Until we see the numbers of textiles and fashion workers reflected in management and leadership we will never see the change we need.