Women’s Day 2020: How To Actually Make a Difference
Women’s Day, also known as International Women’s Day or #IWD takes place every year on 8 March. Sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the achievements of women, the progress being made in women’s education, healthcare and business around the world and the importance of sisterhood, equality and safety for women?
International Women’s Day is cause for celebration, however, it bears remembering where this day originated. International Women’s Day was started in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union, after hundreds of female workers died in New York. And yet, we’re still fighting for fair treatment, fair pay and safe conditions for women working in the textile industry around the world.
So, do the ways in which we choose to celebrate do more harm than good? Consider the impact of that cut-price slogan tee. Who made it? How much were those women paid? How far does the hashtag #womensupportingwomen actually get us? And what about those #IWD tote bags from your favourite high street brand? Where did they come from? And at what cost to women?
Ahead of Women’s Day 2020, we’ve looked to a collection of brands working to make the world a better place. By supporting these brands and purchasing your new-season wardrobe from them, you directly support fair treatment and investment in women around the world.
On days like Women’s Day, it’s easy to only think of the sisters closest to us, so we asked fair founders what International Women’s Day means to them and how far the impact of #womensupportingwomen can actually reach.
People Tree: setting the standard for paying female artisans fairly
People Tree is a conscious clothing brand that directly supports female artisans, like Shirin, a tailor based in India. Shirin has worked with Artisan Hut, a People Tree supplier, for nine years. Artisan Hut, Based in Dhaka, India provides artisans in rural areas with fairly-paid work.
Unlike many women working in the textile industry in India, Shirin has the opportunity to be flexible with her hours, which allows her to pick up her daughter from school.
Shirin’s employer recently provided her with a loan so she and her husband could buy a rickshaw and travel greater distances, meaning more consistent work. So, backing brands like People Tree means directly supporting women like Shirin and setting the standard for women’s working conditions in rural India.
Yala Jewellery: supporting Maasai families with financial fairness
Next up, Yala Jewellery. How does this ethical jewellery brand support women? Well, Yala works with over 150 artisans in the informal sector in Kenya, including a group of Maasai women operating out of a fair trade workshop.
Due to family dependencies, the work of these women has a positive impact on over 300 households in the surrounding area. These women are paid 10% of the sale price of every item upfront. That’s three times the average daily wage in the areas in which they live and work. Yala told us:
For us International Women’s Day is about creating financial opportunity for women working in rural areas in Kenya, giving them access to markets beyond their environment and therefore the ability to improve the lives of themselves and their families by generating income from traditional crafts such as beading. Yala’s mission is to grow and thrive so that the artisans we work with can also grow and thrive. We cannot claim to be successful if they are not successful too.
/ id / Clothing: the brand founded for female empowerment’s sake
/ id / clothing was founded to empower women. This is part of the brand’s mission. ‘We aspire to empower as many women as we can reach’ the brand’s Founders tell us. ‘Those who wear our pieces, those who make them and those who simply need support.’
/ id / pieces are crafted in Tbilisi, Georgia by a small team of creative and passionate women. Here, the brand seeks to offer an environment where women learn new skills and feel valued, providing them with fair living income.
To us, International Women’s Day is a celebration of the incredible acts of courage and determination of each and every woman who stand up against any form of gender inequality. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage & determination.
Go As U.R: investing in women’s education in partnership with W4
Go As U.R is a contemporary fashion brand with a commitment to fair and transparent practices. ‘For us Women’s Day is a day where we celebrate diversity, equality and empowerment.’
The brand’s founders tell us. ‘With each purchase of a Go As U.R piece you are investing €1 in empowering girls and women across the globe through our partnership with W4, Women’s WorldWideWeb.’
W4 empowers girls and women through education, microfinance, access to IT resources, online mentoring and networking.
SABINNA: women working for fairness and textile transparency
SABINNA is an ethical womenswear brand leading the charge in sustainable fashion. Founder Sabinna tells us,’I wish every day would be Women’s Day but unfortunately it’s not the case. We still haven’t reached equal rights for everyone and therefore this day is important for awareness, encouragement and empowerment.
We are a female-led team providing a work environment that embraces female diversity and lifestyle choices. With three quarters of people working in the textile industry being women, it’s our obligation to provide good working conditions and transparent supply chains.
For IWD we are planning a special episode of our podcast ‘Connecting People’ in which each team member is going to share their views on feminism and empowerment. We are also going to offer 20% off on the day. For the rest of the year, we are aiming to continue pushing the agenda of equality and better lives for women.
Birdsong: protesting and providing for disenfranchised women
Birdsong is a London-based ethical fashion brand known for its slogan tees. Its supply chain supports charities like Stitches in Time – the women at the Stitches in Time workshop are long-term unemployed, and mostly from low income, migrant, refugee backgrounds or survivors of domestic abuse.
For us, the day has always been linked to our mission to make fashion fairer for women. From worker to wearer, everything we do since we started in 2014 was informed by our experiences working alongside marginalised women here in the UK.
Women’s Day Events in London
Sabinna will be talking being a female founder whilst representing The Trampery at its Women’s Day event on 23 March. More info.
/ id / will be taking part in LDC’s International Women’s Day concept store at 37 Bushfield Street, London from 6 to 12 March. More Info.
The Birdsong London team will be speaking at Riposte Magazine’s IWD event on Sunday 8 March at the Ace Hotel, London. More info.