For over a century, International Women’s Day has been a significant force in unifying women globally to celebrate each other and collectively fight for their rights and freedoms. It seems like on the surface it’s the best time to be a woman so, what’s left to fight for? There is still so much work to be done. A gender pay gap still persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men. So, it’s important that women have this outlet to create awareness that these inequalities still exist and also to celebrate women and their achievements to keep pushing them forward and to raise each other up!
80% of garment workers globally are women. They are exploited on a daily basis. The fight for their rights and freedom is essentially a women’s issue. If women don’t lead this fight nobody else will. For this post, I want to celebrate some key women in the fashion industry that have been pivotal in the fight for fair labour and sustainability in fashion and who are so inspiring to me and many others.
Carry Somers is a fashion designer and the founder of Fashion Revolution Day. After the tragic Rana Plaza disaster of April 2013, she felt compelled to find a way that the victims of Rana Plaza and all the other tragedies that have occurred in the name of fashion will never be forgotten. Fashion Revolution Day would be the driving force to bring about real change in the industry. “On 24 April, people around the world, high street shops and high couture, cotton farmers and factory workers, and anyone who cares about what they wear – come together to call for change. It is a global platform which we can all use to ask questions, raise standards and set an industry-wide example of what better looks like. By celebrating best practice, we can change lives.” The Fashion Revolution Movement has grown to over 500 global partnerships, 118 policy makers engaged in 18 countries, 231 student embassadors in 22 countries, and 762k online following.
Safia Minney is an award-winning British social entrepreneur, the pioneer of fair trade and ethical fashion with her label People Tree and the founder of World Fairtrade Day. She is also the author of 9 books about sustainable and ethical fashion. People Tree is the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organization product label. Safia Minney has set a precedent and a fine example that her model of fairtrade and sustainability works in fashion. Not only does it work, but it helps to eleviate communities out of poverty and into self-sufficiency, impacting their livelihoods immensely.
Emma Watson is a British actress and activist for gender equality and ethical fashion. She is the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador. Emma continually showcases and discusses her sustainable and ethical fashion choices in an effort to incite change and get us to make smarter choices. It’s refreshing to see when celebrities use their platform to create positive change. We can’t undermine how much weight their words and actions carry in influencing others. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe are now getting a message of sustainable and ethical fashion thanks to her advocacy. In fact, she even made sure her red dress and cape costume from Beauty and the Beast was all eco-friendly. With the use of up-cycled vintage fabrics and GOTS-certified (global organic textile standard) organic cotton and linen and natural dyes, they ensured all components of her costume was 100 percent sustainable. Hopefully designers everywhere can learn from this that if motivated enough, anything is possible.
Livia firth is the Founder and Creative Director of Eco Age, a consultancy firm working with brands who want to improve or build sustainability into their supply chain. She was also the Executive Director of the documentary “The True Cost” that changed so many people’s perception of fashion including my own. In addition, she founded the “Green Carpet Challenge,” which seeks to influence celebrities to wear ethical and sustainable designs to high profile events to shine a light on sustainability and social welfare in fashion. In addition to all of that fabulousness, Live Firth is also a women’s rights campaigner, having launched The Circle — an advocacy group working to overcome poverty and empower women around the world.
With the examples of these inspiring women and so many more globally, it just goes to show that collectively we can make change happen. When we do anything with intention, purpose and motivation, women are unstoppable! #EachForEqual