#GarmentWorkerSpeak Campaign – International Women’s Day 2022

On International Women’s Day, we asked women garment workers and trade union leaders what the day meant to them. A campaign in photos.

This International Women’s Day, Dork Savan, local union leader of Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), at the Yida factory in Cambodia, is urging fashion brands to share some of their profits, with women garment workers, who have endured tremendous suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“The future belongs to women and we must strive to win it.” On Women’s Day, Sumiyati, union leader of the Serikat Pekerja Nasional (SPN), Indonesia, is highlighting the tremendous role that gender equality can play in advancing a more just, equitable and sustainable society for all.



This Women’s Day, Aabida Ali, labor activist and Pakistan coordinator of Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), is demanding that fashion brands, along with garment suppliers, be legally mandated to remediate gender-based violence in their supply chains.



Saroja K, General Secretary of Garment Labour Union (GLU), Karnataka, is restating the importance of freedom of association and women-led trade unions in ensuring violence-free workplaces in the garment industry.



Lakmali Hemachandra, organizer & labor activist from Sri Lanka, is calling on fashion brands to address wage theft and pay living wages for their garment workers if they wish to “empower” the women workers, who stitch their clothes every day.



Nandhini, an Indian garment worker and member of Tamil Nadu Textiles & Common Labour Union (TTCU), talks about the everyday violence, garment workers like her, experience at homes and in factories. She demands respect, dignity, and safety for all women, everywhere.

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Meas Vanny, legal officer at Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), highlights the importance of freedom of association and social dialogue in addressing gender-based violence & harassment in garment factories.

Jeeva M, the General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Textiles & Common Labour Union (TTCU) is calling on fashion brands to address issues of high production targets, insecure employment contracts & non-payment of living wages in their supply chains — if they truly care about empowering Dalit women garment workers.
Erin, a 27-year-old Indonesian garment worker and trade union leader of Federasi Serikat Buruh Garmen, Kerajinan, Tekstil, Kulit dan Sentra Industri (FSB GARTEKS), recounts her brutal experience of being terminated during the seventh month of her pregnancy during Covid-19 — after three-plus years of service. She was denied maternity benefits.
Today, she is struggling to make ends meet. What Erin experienced is not uncommon. This is the brutal reality of millions of Asian garment workers who produce for global fashion brands. This is why Global South trade unions and labor organizers are calling on brands to address issues of wage theft, living wages, and social protection – as a means to reduce the risks of all forms of gender-based violence in fashion supply chains.
Lalitha Dedduwakumara, the chief organizer of the women’s trade union Textile, Garment and Clothing Workers’ Union (TGCWU), in Sri Lanka, is calling on fashion brands to ensure living wages to their women workers so that they can lead a life of safety and dignity.
Kalpona, an Indian garment worker & member of Tamil Nadu Textiles & Common Labour Union (TTCU), talks about the issues she faces in the garment industry and the changes she wishes to see this Women’s Day.
Chamila Thushari, the General Secretary of the women’s union, Dabindu Collective, is calling on fashion brands to create incentive structures that promote, rather than repress, GBVH reporting and to support freedom of association.
Rika, an Indonesian garment worker, talks about the difficulty that middle-aged women garment workers face in finding jobs after being laid off during Covid-19. Though she worked for 18 years, due to the poverty wages in the industry, she has no savings.
We end the #GarmentWorkerSpeak series this Women’s Day with this video. Sangeetha, an Indian garment worker asks us why we are celebrating women’s day — when women are still fighting for the most basic rights, including the right over their own bodies.
She is demanding — not flowers or chocolates this women’s day — but greater freedom, equal legal work rights, living wages, and dignity, for garment workers like her, who work more than 60 hours every week, to earn a wage, that hardly feeds their family.
By demanding greater accountability and liability from brands, and by uplifting the voices of women garment workers and their unions, we can all play a role in transforming fashion supply chains, so that they ‘benefit’, not ‘exploit’, women workers.


#GarmentWorkerSpeak #IWD2022

Category: Photo Essay/Blog