A first-of-its-kind research project led by Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) in partnership with Fashion Revolution and C&A Foundation gives the most comprehensive picture yet of the living and working conditions faced by female garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India.
The reports, released today, coincide with the presentation of Fashion Focus: the fundamental right to a living wage in the European Parliament, with comments from MFO’s Executive Director, Guy Stuart: “The Diaries provide a dynamic picture of the daily lives of women garment workers: their regular earning and spending habits, as well as how they cope with the ups and downs of life. What we see are stories of endurance in face of a difficult combination of low wages and economic uncertainty.”
Over 12 months, researchers visited 540 workers (180 per country) at their homes to learn about what they earn and buy, how they spend their time each day and what their working conditions are like.
“Sumi, a young widow from Bangladesh, was one of thousands of garment workers who, in December 2016, protested a low wages and high rents in Ashulia. She first joined the garment industry to support her family, but was soon diagnosed with cancer. With little income to cover her rent and medical expenses, the cost of treatment soon wiped out her savings and Sumi was forced into debt. “We never complained in our factory, even though they gave us fewer benefits compared to other factories. We thought [by protesting] they would raise wages a little.” ”Sumi
The reports highlight that the living and working conditions of female garment workers varies greatly between countries:
“By listening to their stories, we identified patterns of behaviour within and across countries. This gives brands something to consider above and beyond their margins when deciding where to make their clothes. Their decisions have a real and meaningful impact on the lives of these women and their families,” comments Eric Noggle, Research Director, MFO.
The projects’ findings are effective tools for workers, factories, brands, governments to make change and leverage positive movements in target countries as many of them continue to source clothing from factories employing workers who struggle to make ends meet. This is an opportunity for key global stakeholders to work collaboratively and bring about systemic change in the garment industry.
To access the full reports, please visit: http://workerdiaries.org/garme...
Click here to download the press release.