FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 12th, 2019
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As negotiations are underway this week at the International Labor Organization in Geneva to create a global standard on women’s labor rights, Global Labor Justice (GLJ) and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) released a new report today titled, “Gender Justice on Garment Global Supply Chains: An Agenda to Transform Fast-Fashion”, as a follow up to the #GarmentMeToo campaign that they launched last month.
This new report provides a clear road map for fast fashion brands on how to end gender based violence and harassment (GBVH) on garment production lines, along with a set of recommendations to the ILO. The recommendations are centered around low wage workers on global supply chains with key information about AFWA’s Safe Circle Approach — a transformative approach to GBVH prevention that integrates key components of a corporate accountability approach.
“Women workers organized to make gender based violence and harassment a priority for the ILO and the labor and human rights movement, said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum of Global Labor Justice. “An ILO Convention and Recommendation are only the beginning- ending violence and harassment on the shop floor and across supply chains requires innovative collaborations like the “Safe Circles Approach” with roles for brands, suppliers, and unions.“
AFWA’s safe circle approach was designed by the AFWA Women’s Leadership Committee in partnership with women workers on production lines and their trade unions, supplier factories and brands. It was created in response to GBVH in garment factories to develop and sustain a positive organizational culture on garment production lines.
“The research is clear: GBVH continues on garment global supply chains and current approaches are not working,” says Elly Rosita Silaban, a member of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women’s Leadership Committee (AFWA-WLC). “Multinational garment brands that drive the industry stand at a critical crossroads: will they use the Safe Circles Strategy as a new tool to root out GBVH, production line by production line? Or will they continue with a business model that relies on gender based violence and harassment for the sake of cheap labor and higher profits?”
Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator of Asia Floor Wage Alliance says, “When women workers in low-wage jobs speak up, they face immediate retaliation and backlash. If fast fashion brands are serious about preventing GBVH on their supply chains, they should adopt the Safe Circles Approach and ensure their suppliers work, locally and regionally with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women’s Leadership Committee.”
Rukhmini V.P., a member of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women’s Leadership Committee (AFWA-WLC) says, “This report is a call to action across Asian global garment supply chains. Garment brands are generally in agreement that their internal grievance mechanisms to address GBV have not been successful, which was clearly shown in our 2018 report. Our response is for brands to adopt the Safe Circle strategies approach. This way supervisors and workers can work together to create a GBV free workplace by developing a common understanding though joint trainings.”
The #GarmentMeToo campaign builds on 2018 global supply chain research documenting gender based violence in Asian garment supply chains including H&M and Walmart. The reports documented and analyzed patterns of GBVH in Asian global garment supply chains. The research also led to the formation of the Women’s Leadership Committee of the Asia Floor Wage including fourteen women trade union leaders across four countries organized to lead negotiations with brands aimed at collaboratively transforming cultures of impunity for gender based violence and harassment (GBVH) on garment global supply chains.
The 2018 global supply chain reports were covered by more than 50 news outlets across 17 countries, and described by The Nation as a “#MeToo Movement for the Global Fashion Industry.” Additionally, on June 5, 2018, H&M and Gap publicly declared support for a binding ILO Convention on workplace violence, including gender based violence in 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), founded in 2007, is an Asian labour-led international alliance of garment industry trade unions, labour rights organisations, consumer groups and research institutes across Asia, Europe and North America.