Black Friday, Cyber Monday And Holiday Sales Disempower Women : 3 Facts We Tend To Forget

Black Friday garment workers by Rio Lecatompessy
Find out Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Holiday Sales disproportionately Affects Women 
Unpaid wages.  Restrictions on bathroom breaks. Long working hours. Denied maternity leave. Inside the worsening condition of the factories that make the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday Sales products. 


Worker’s Rights Are Non-Existent 

In places like Bangladesh, China, India and Cambodia many fashion workers lack the security of paid leave and basic medical care. Along with it, it is estimated that less than 2%of garment workers earn a living wage, while being forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Workers are frequently develop physical ailments as result of their fast-paced, strenuous working requirements and exposure to toxic chemicals, all in an effort to earn a living wage, while being payed mere cents per garment produced.
Garment Workers in West Java - Indonesia

The Generational Cycle of Poverty   

One in six workers around the world are employed in the fashion industry, and 80% of these workers are women. Of these women, about 80%  are between the ages of 18 – 35 (Good on You). Many of the young women are forced to work long hours under poor conditions with minimal pay, making it difficult to provide for their families as well as to accumulate wealth to rise of out poverty.  
Moreover, the girls are forced to work in dangerous working conditions and have to miss out on the opportunity to expand their education. They are not given the opportunity to thrive or upskill in order to be provide a better future fo themselves and their families. 

Workplace Harassment   

Women workers also face gender-based violence in the workplace, including being forced to provide sexual favors. It is almost a norm in various places, across many industries. A study by the Fair Wear Foundation and Care International found that female factory workers in Vietnam face systemic sexual harassment and violence at work. Approximately 2 million people are employed in Vietnam’s garment sector, with some factories having as many as 20,000 workers. More than 80% of the workers are women.
Participants interviewed as part of the study reported being exposed to physical violence, sexual jokes, obscene gestures, and offensive emails, among other abuses. Excessive overtime was also uncovered. The study found violence and harassment had a negative impact on workers’ health and wellbeing, as well as the organization’s productivity, competitiveness and reputation. The study also found that when clear complaint procedures were in place, women reported significantly lower levels of abuse, 25% compared with 58.7%.
These grim statistics reflect the goings-on that we see in recent days. victims are afraid to speak out for fear of it affecting their lives — and in this case, jobs and businesses. They have a very little room opportunity for recourse as the rot goes all the way to the top.
Black Friday conscious shopping

So, What’s the Solution ?   

Finding the solution to this will be difficult for as long as gender imbalances at the top of power hierarchies remain. It is not enough that regulations are enacted in the workplace. Victims need to trust and feel safe when they report abusive, toxic, and harassing behavior in the workplace. Funny enough, many at the top are abusers and perpetrators of harassment and abuse themselves — and they get off scot-free due to the power and influence they wield in the company. So while experts can prescriptively suggest methods to take perpetrators to task, such remedial actions must also be extended to those at the top.  
We all have a role to play too. We have the power to choose brands that put people first, to urge and incentivize brands to change their practices for the better. Boycotting supplier countries or blaming factories is not the answer either – they are an essential source of employment and economic activity. The shift towards more sustainable shopping was already on the rise, and evidence suggests it will only accelerate after the covid crisis. According to McKinsey and Company, consumer expectations will be heightened for “purpose-driven, sustainable action” from brands.  
So this coming Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holiday Sales season, remember that you are a powerful agent of change. Your wallet is an influencer. So make sure every dollar you spend has the potential to end violence against women, help create dignified jobs, bring about social good, and clean up the planet. 
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