His involvement in the exploitation of women in history and fashion is high.

We celebrated International Women’s Day globally. But many of us don’t know what this day is, its history and how it should really stand up for women’s rights.

For those who don’t know, IWD is “a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide and marks a call to action to accelerate gender equality”.

Did you know that International Women’s Day was celebrated a century ago by female garment workers due to their struggles, including terrible working conditions, abuse and increased child labor in garment factories?

How did it start?

In the year In 1908, 15,000 women garment workers went on strike in New York City over abusive working conditions and poor wages. The organizers were members of the Socialist Party of America. This strike inspired the creation of National Women’s Day in America.

In the year In November 1909, immigrant women in their teens and 20s went on another strike in NYC, protesting terrible working conditions, overcrowded, unsanitary facilities (basically small sweatshops), long workdays, and poor wages. Also known as the “riot of the 20,000”, this strike lasted for 14 weeks during the brutal winter.

It was the largest strike by female American workers in American history. When their initial demands were not answered, the factory owners resorted to violence by hiring thugs and attacking the women workers who were part of the strike. After much struggle, the strike ended in February 1910 and most of their demands were met.

The garment workers’ strike in NYC inspired female garment workers around the world. Later, at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, the German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed the establishment of ‘International Women’s Day’ as an annual holiday. The proposal received unanimous approval from 100 women from 17 countries. Initially, no specific day was set for IWD, and it was observed on various days in March.

Ironically, shortly after a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York in These workers could not escape the fire, as they were locked inside to prevent unauthorized bathroom breaks and theft. This highlighted the plight of poor garment workers and the inhumane working conditions in America and beyond.

In the year In 1913, the official day of IWD was decided to be March 8 and this day was officially celebrated as International Women’s Day. Finally, in In 1975, the United Nations declared International Women’s Year and it has been celebrated worldwide ever since.

What is the status of garment workers today?

Ironically, women garment workers are still fighting for the same thing a century later. Very few changes in 100 years. Since this event, manufacturing has moved away from the United States to faraway countries where workplace laws do not exist. Instead of improving the conditions of garment workers and solving the problems systematically, fashion companies were sending them to countries with no regulations.

Modern day slavery in the fashion industry is a sad reality. In the year This is how the Rana Plaza incident was allowed to happen in Bangladesh in 2013 when this factory was destroyed when thousands died. These garment workers were risking their lives making clothes for brands such as Zara, Walmart, Benetton and Primark.

The Rana Plaza incident was not a one-time event, highlighting the dark side of the fashion industry. Accidents such as fire are common in Bangladesh, and often these factories are owned by companies from developed countries to avoid safety regulations in their countries.

The fashion industry is plagued by human rights abuses and environmental issues.

Fast fashion is a women’s issue

Unfortunately, on the one hand we are talking about women’s rights and on the other hand, we are participating in the exploitation of women by buying from fast fashion brands (such as H&M, Boho, Shein, Max, Forever 21).

Women suffer from these companies 365 days a year. Fast fashion is a women’s issue.

If you stand up for women’s rights, you can’t support fast fashion brands that exploit female workers.

As consumers we need to hold fashion brands accountable. And make better fashion choices that don’t involve the exploitation of our sisters.



The views expressed above are those of the author.

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