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Campaign art: Is slavery woven into your clothing?

Roxanne Bauer's picture

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

The textile industry, in particular the manufacturing of apparel, has long been a key industry in South Asia.  It provides those with relatively low skills with job opportunities. It also has a unique ability to attract female workers; women’s share of total apparel employment is much higher than in other industries in nearly every country in the region. In recent years, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have made substantial investments in world apparel trade. In 2012, for example, apparel represented 83% of Bangladeshi exports and 45% of Sri Lankan exports.

Nevertheless, the apparel industry in many locations is burdened with poor working conditions and hazardous, degrading policies that damage the environment.  The harsh conditions that many workers in the developing countries must face have been qualified as “slave labour” by The European Parliament.

The Behind the Seams initiative is a new campaign dedicated to improving the conditions of workers in the international fashion industry and to raising awareness about the environmental impact of the industry. Because bad conditions throughout the production of clothing has a greater impact than just the factory. They started with a clear idea: transparency is the first step to transform the industry. There should be no mystery as to who is making your clothes, and all aspects and impacts of a brand’s supply chain should be known and regulated.
There should be no mystery
Source: Behind the Seams

Behind the Seams is intended as a collaboration with organizations and people in multiple countries and disciplines:

The Behind the Seams initiative build[s] bridges between the global fashion industry in the developed world and the garment industry producing the clothes in the developing countries.

Later this year, the organization will honor brands with The Straight Seam Award.  It is an additional form of positive encouragement to compel change to make the apparel industry more responsible and sustainable.

This initiative is driven by design agency Move Copenhagen and was launched with the support of Denmark’s development cooperation DANIDA.

More information on the importance of the apparel industry to South Asian economies can be found in Stitches to Riches? Apparel Employment, Trade, and Economic Development in South Asia, a new World Bank publication.

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Submitted by Fatimata Sy on

The tragic images of burning and collapsing building in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are a reminder that economic slavery is here to stay. As long the governments of developing countries will continue to ignore what is happening to their own people, tragedies like this will continue. I truly believe that leaders need to feel compassion for their own people before facilitating in-trade for foreigners. Can just someone in the modernized world imagine seeing her young child be trapped in this environment all his/her life? The world can be a very sick place.
We have the same situation in the mines in Africa. We celebrated Mother's Day on Sunday. How many women receive blood tainted jewelry?
We eat fresh food coming from everywhere; how many entire families die from exhaustion and frustration on the plantations?
The signs of economic slavery are everywhere except in Scandinavian countries where being in good health is the first sign of success.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think you wanted to showcase that there are initiatives to improve working conditions in apparel and in other labor intensive industries. Yes, there are important initiatives such as Better Work a joint IFC-ILO program, also Global Buyers have put in place compliance programs. Maybe you may want to mention the steps taken by countries to address compliance which are discussed in the Stitches2Riches publication.

Thanks- it's always good to hear from colleagues.  Better Work sounds like an excellent program. The Campaign Art feature is meant to showcase communication campaigns and artwork from around the world.

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