#GarmentMeToo: Women Garment Workers Demand an End to Gender Based Violence Across the Global Garment Supply Chain

published 03-05-2019 02:00, last modified 03-05-2019 02:08
The campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Global Garment Supply Chains
#GarmentMeToo: Women Garment Workers Demand an End  to Gender Based Violence Across the Global Garment Supply Chain


#GarmentMeToo: Women Garment Workers Demand an End to Gender Based Violence Across the Global Garment Supply Chain


Today, Global Labor Justice and Asia Floor Wage Alliance announce the launch of a new global campaign, #GarmentMeToo. The campaign is a transformative vision of work that centres the dignity and economic security of women workers led by women trade union leaders in order to win concrete solutions and contribute to  new international labor standards and ultimately create power building roles for supplier unions, allied unions, women’s organizations, human rights organizations, and consumers in brand supplier producing and retail countries. The purpose of the campaign is to target the supply chains of garment apparel brands in order to bring brands and their suppliers to the table with supplier unions to bargain and create changes on production lines at the industrial level as well as along global supply chains.  


In the #MeToo era, women-led organizing is emerging worldwide in fields, factories, and boardrooms towards the goal of gender equity and inclusion and pushing back against violence against women. At its centennial anniversary, the International Labor Organization is undertaking an international standard setting on Gender Based Violence.  “Through the Garment Me Too Campaign, garment women worker leaders and their allies expose serious exploitation and then put forward innovative proposals for transformative global supply chains which create decent work, social justice, and a future of work that empowers women,” says Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, U.S. Director of Global Labor Justice.


At this key moment, garment brands who have women dominated global supply chains must also act on their responsibility to improve conditions for women workers in their global supply chains in collaboration with the worker organizations that those women lead, including preventing gender-based violence and harassment.


Brands have shown time and again that they are not invested in creating economic stability and ensuring a workplace that is free from gender-based violence for their workers along their global supply chains. Corporate social responsibility programs and audits distract from the necessary structural changes that corporations need to make in order to shift pressures that require high production targets with low costs that often lead to gender-based violence.

Instead, corporations must work with and follow the lead of women-led worker organizations driving change along global garment supply chains.


Anannya Bhattacharjee, secretariat of Asia Floor Wage Alliance says,The Garment Me Too campaign spotlights the torturous gender-based violence that garment women workers face daily in supplier factories across Asia. When women workers in precarious poverty-level jobs speak up they face immediate retaliation and backlash. If fashion brands are serious about commitments to women’s empowerment they and their suppliers should work, locally and regionally, with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women’s Leadership Committee (AFWA-WLC) — composed of women garment worker leaders across Asia — to change conditions in the factories immediately.”


Women and trade union leaders who work on the global supply chains day in and day out know the problems -- and they know the solutions to addressing the issues. Women garment workers have been organizing to bring major brands and suppliers to the table in order to create a new standard across global supply chains that demands a woman’s right to work with dignity, earn a living wage, freedom from gender based violence and the ability to join and lead worker organizations so they can provide for their families, be successful and thrive within their communities.


“Global capitalism has caused the prevalence of gender based violence that haunts women garment workers daily within brand supplier factories.  With the #GarmentMeToo campaign, women garment workers are able to fight against gender based violence and demand that brands be held responsible and improve the working conditions within their supplier factories. This campaign will help break the stigma that women are weak and not capable of fighting back against the violence they face but instead fighting to create a workplace that empowers women. It is also crucial for brands to take gender based violence cases seriously and work together with women garment workers and trade unions to find the best solutions for them,” says Sumiyati Nama, a leader within the Serikat Pekerja Nasional Workers Union in Indonesia.


Innovative leadership helmed by garment workers and trade unionists will be able to enforce strong regulations, like the proposed ILO Convention, and other regional agreements through bargaining that would reach across borders in order to tackle gender-based violence and harassment along global supply chains and promote economic stability between brands, suppliers and trade unions at the local and international level.


The women trade union leaders in the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) that represent thousands of women garment workers in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia, with members producing clothes for H&M, Gap, Walmart, Nike and other well-known brands that global consumers continue to wear are leading organizing efforts to create these changes across global garment supply chains.


 Global Labor Justice (GLJ) is a US based strategy hub supporting transnational collaboration among worker and migrant organizations to expand labor rights and new forms of bargaining on global value chains and international labor migration corridors.

 Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) was officially formed in 2006 and includes more than 76 organizations, including garment industry trade unions, NGOs, consumer groups and research institutes from more than 17 countries from across Asia, Europe and North America.