Three years ago, in 2013, the Rana Plaza factories in Bangladesh collapsed. The tragedy sent shockwaves throughout the global apparel industry, and set a new definition for the word “horrific.” 1,134 workers were killed, and hundreds more were injured because of the collapse, including loss of limbs.
Such a tragedy should serve as inspiration for reform in the global-scale garment industry. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 New York serves as a precedent for global supply chains to be placed under improved regulation in order to prevent harm to women and labor rights.
The right to “freedom of association” did not permeate the Bangladesh Garment Industry, even after the factory collapse. Coalitions for change are required for this right and freedom to manifest.
Although the global garment industry harms both men and women, women are under further injustice at work. Worker rights advocates are then called to join forces with women’s rights advocates to help form more just global societies, relationships, and industries. Two-thirds of both minimum age and tip worker are women. Women in certain industries are the majority, yet they are forced fight to achieve better wages. Women in Bangladesh, for example, have been beaten by getting involved in the organizing of unions, and even do not have the support of their family, according to reports.
Women workers also suffer a higher amount of injustice than men. In Bangladesh, women are intimidated, sexually harassed, and treated violently to be discouraged from advocating their rights. Managers have even sent thugs to follow and beat women outside of work.
It should be noted that this type of treatment of women is not unique to Bangladesh, nor to its industry; many other countries and industries violate human rights with regards to women and workers. It is a global phenomenon.
Industry reform and rising initiatives in U.S. development policies may help in the future. A new approach should be utilized to empower workers and have their rights protected, while at the same time, addresses and corrects the right violations and injustice women face in these industries. Clear protections and a recognition of work gender-based violence. Furthermore, we need policies of justice that women believe in and fight with.
Image from SHELMA1 via Getty Images. Image appears in report.