Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Third-World Feminism

Since it's International Women's Day, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about this issue, which has been bugging me for years. I feel like this is a topic that not many people delve into—despite the fact that it's so in tune with feminism, which has gained some popularity in the past decade or so. However, feminism is definitely a controversial and sensitive topic to a lot of people, so if you're not interested in that or feel like you would be easily offended by it, feel free to click away. Be warned, that if you stay, you would need to respect the opinions laid out on this page—either by me or any (possible) commenters.

In the past couple decades or so, there seems to be a rise in feminism throughout the globe. More and more women are speaking out against bigotry and sexism, starting up conversations that will dive into topics, which might be unthinkable in the previous centuries. Activists, public figures and pretty much any woman in the world, through social media and other means, have started to take a stand and making a point of not bowing down to the stereotypes and conservative views of women in any roles of their lives. Topics, such as body positivity, female empowerment and non-gender-based fields, seem to be the hot trend of the masses. With these conversations, people start to develop ideas and actions which would make the world a better place for women. They won't stand down  to sexual discriminations anymore. The world is slowly changing.

That being said, the development and growth the world is taking in that regard seem to be focused on some topics more than others. Articles, movements and online contents on body positivity, for instance, seem to be in abundance, whereas fair trade and ethical fashion, for example, fall to the wayside, rendered less popular and less interesting than the previous topic. When talking about female empowerment, people rarely think about slavery in the fashion industry. Often public figures open a discussion on feminism one minute and record themselves purchasing from unethical brands the next. This makes no sense to me, as if feminism is a jest only for the elites.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought feminism was about equality—okay, gender equality, but equality nonetheless. Does that mean if certain groups of people are treated like garbage, so long as both the men and women are equally treated as such, it's okay to keep treating them that way? Is social equality not part of feminism as well? Hence, are we actually empowering all women, or just the privileged ones—the ones with so many opportunities already awaiting them for the rest of their lives?

Here are some facts (source): According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, in the Cambodian garment industry over 80% of workers are women, aged 18-35. In Guangdong in China young women face 150 hours of overtime each month—60% have no contract, 90% no access to social insurance. In Bangladesh garment workers—most of whom are women—earn £44 per month; just ¼ of a living wage. What's more, these workers will be heavily affected by the toxic waste produced in the manufacturing process of clothing afterwards. Now, while girls' education in other countries may not have a direct line to our lives, this modern slavery does. There is something very simple we can do to fight it and empower these women. Shouldn't their livelihood and well-being matter as much as ours? Shouldn't we hear their plea, which has been shut down time and time again, and come to their rescue?

You can start simple: just ask a question. Inquire your favourite retail brand of their code of ethics, demand that they pay their workers fair wages, and push them to be more environmentally responsible. We as a consumer have the right and privilege to give out our opinions about the way a brand conducts their business. They as a business need to listen to us, lest they want to lose customers and, potentially, money. If we take a stand and start to question the way they run their business, demanding a better way to manufacture and deliver their products to us, they will start to question their methods and make changes in how they conduct their business. Yes, we have more power than we realise.

If you want to find more information on how to support them and how to spread the word, you can always check out the Fashion Revolution homepage. There are also numerous awesome organisations that can help you find information on this topic, such as Anti-Slavery International, Clean Clothes Campaign, Ethical Fashion Forum, Fairtrade International and many more. If you choose to stop supporting unethical businesses and opt for slow fashion, there are clothing brands, whose sole purpose is to empower women, such as Naja, Mata Traders and Tiralahilacha, among others.

This Women's Day, let us speak for those whose voices cannot be heard!

P.S: the sources are linked on the pictures

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