It’s known that women have always had to fight for their rights. It has never been easy, but throughout history, we’ve proved that it’s possible to gain space in society by putting up flags such as equality, inclusivity, and representation. On March 8th, it’s International Women’s Day, in which we celebrate the achievements already made, but also think about the next steps we, as a society, need to take.
As United Nations Women said, “women want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made”.
But when and how did we start celebrating March 8th? What can you do to contribute to the movement? And what does it have to do with the fashion industry? In these next topics, we’re going to talk about all of that!
What is International Women’s Day and how did it start?
International Women’s Day, on March 8th, is a day dedicated globally to the celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This date is also dedicated to making a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
According to United Nations, it was officially recognized in 1977. Different events have been related to the creation of International Women’s Day, but these discussions actually emerged from the activities of labor movements at the turn of the 20th-century in North America and across Europe.
However, it can be said that some events served as a trigger for the growth and strengthening of this wave. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York demanding better work conditions and voting rights.
After that, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a sweatshop, that employed young immigrant women who worked in a cramped space at lines of sewing machines, caught fire, killing 145 workers, and leaving hundreds seeking justice.
The purple, white, and green wave
The official colors of International Women’s Day originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), in the UK, in 1908. Therefore, the movement is related to purple, white, and green. Purple means justice and dignity. White to purity, albeit and controversial concept. Green symbolizes hope.
Why is Women’s International Day so important for the fashion industry?
From the way the collections are produced to the working conditions of the employees, the fashion industry has come to understand that changes need to be made and fast. Even though these discussions have gained more and more space, as in the Worldwide Talks Fashinnovation promotes, we can’t stop these conversations yet. But why does fashion play a big role on International Women’s Day?
1. Women are making our clothes and for majority, their well-being depends on it
As stated by Fashion Revolution, the fashion industry remains the most labour-intensive industry in the world, and most of that labour is done by women who are subjected to bad working conditions.
International Labour Organization estimated that, around the world, roughly 80% of garment workers are women. At the same time, women represent 71% of those working in modern slavery conditions. And, even though the changes have begun, there’s still a lot to fight for when it comes to the livelihoods of the women who make our clothes.
2. Consumers are now demanding an industry with more gender equality
As discussed in one of the panels of the February 11th Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks event – Fashion Is Global Inclusivity – consumers are now demanding representativeness, in terms of skin color, clothing size, and gender issues.
Nowadays, a brand that is not concerned with women’s rights and fights, won’t sell. People are now understanding that every piece of clothing has a story behind it, and everyone that is involved needs to be respected and represented.
That is why fashion brands and companies have to work towards gender equality in their supply chain and also why consumers and people inside the industry, from now on, have to demand and ask these brands for transparency.
3. Gender Equality in Organizations is a revolutionary value
Some companies and brands have taken gender equality as an important value and built the business around it. This kind of action helps not only the movement itself but to change the fashion industry scenario.
Supporting and buying from these types of brands, help their business to grow, but also contributes to spreading the importance of women’s rights!
A thousand drops of water can make an ocean – bringing forth change. What actions are you planning to take from now on and what have you already done to support women’s work? Send us a DM on Instagram telling us.
Happy International Women’s Day!
By Júlia Vilaça