Women form an overwhelming majority in the global garment industry and work in terrible conditions. They are underpaid, face gender-based violence and sexist employment requirements. Yet they are also organising themselves, letting their voices be heard and taking the lead in changing their situation.

The problem

An estimated 60 million workers power the global garment industry, generating its billions of profit. 80% of these workers are female, and this is not a coincidence, but part of a wider integrated business practice creating obstacles for workers to realise their basic rights at work. The industry is notorious for its less-than-decent working conditions, with low wages, forced overtime and unsafe working conditions. In the factories where major brands buy the clothes they sell, women are often deprived of maternity leave, child care and safe travel to work. These structural violations are compounded by the prevalence of gender based violence.


Brands choose to source from countries where labour laws are weak, and workers have little opportunities to organise in order to make sure they can enjoy their basic rights. Women bear the burden of domestic work and child care next to their factory job, and often have little time to organise themselves and fights for their rights. Their gendered roles in society make that they have a lot to loose when they voice their dissent. Their lack of ability to organise sometimes reinforces the stereotype of women as docile beings, due to being female. However, the women workers in our network show strong factory workers, going against many of the stereotypes that exist around ideas about their ‘natural’ roles in society. The risks they take are real and the stakes high.



Garment workers in Bangladesh celebrated Women's day 2020 with a protest demanding the Bangladesh govegnment ratify C190: The Violence and Harassment Convention, recognized by the ILO in 2019.


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"Break the silence - Stop the violence" - Garment Labour Union's Women's Day protest, India, 2020 


What we do

The CCC network is built to offer direct solidarity to the workers in the factories. We strive to have a network consisting of organised women workers, and the people on the factory floor are leading in decision making around our strategies. One way we do this is by our core work of Urgent Appeals; this means we deliver direct solidarity to the women making our clothes who stand up against the violations of their rights. Within our network, this mutual capacity development leads to a strong network with a clear voice for women workers.

In June 2019, after years of campaigning by some of our partners, the International Labour Organisation passed the historic treaty to reduce workplace harassment. This is the first international standard specifically aimed at addressing these issues in the workplace and our network will push governments and brands to make sure it gets implemented.

Freedom of association, the right to bargain, and the rights to organise are pivotal stepping stones for women to realise their rights. Clean Clothes Campaign lobbies and advocates towards brands, governments and other stakeholders to ensure these basic human rights, and make sure they don’t get forgotten when we talk about a sustainable garment industry.

Background

The vast majority of garment workers – approximately 80% – are women. This is not by chance, but the result of discriminatory practices from start to finish. Women are desirable in the garment industry because employers take advantage of cultural stereotypes – to which women are often obliged to adhere – that portrays women as passive and flexible. Productive, reproductive and domestic responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking and childcare constrain women’s ability to seek other types of employments. they just do not have the time or opportunity to improve their working conditions, or even speak out about the abuses they face on a daily basis, making them the ideal employees in management’s eyes.


Gender discrimination runs deep throughout all of the countries in which garments are currently produced. Women are frequently subjected to verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment. They also work under the fear of perhaps being assaulted or raped on their way home from work late at night.



Latest publications on women in the garment industry

Results: 13 Items

  • December 23, 2019

    Will women workers benefit from living wages? A gender-sensitive approach to living wage benchmarking in global garment and footwear supply chains

    The global garment and footwear industry relies heavily on the work of women, who represent up to 80% of its global workforce. The current living wage debate presents both opportunities and risks for the millions of women workers in this industry. This paper argues that it is imperative to adopt a gender-sensitive approach in the living wage discourse, and to look at the implications that such an approach has on the methodology of calculating a living wage and on the measures to implement it.

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  • August 27, 2019

    Gender policy

    CCC is committed to challenging the gender inequality and sex discrimination faced by garment workers, the vast majority of whom are women.

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  • October 4, 2018

    Fabricado por Mujeres (Made by Women, Spanish)

    Spanish version of the Made by Women report from 2005. This 128-page publication published by the CCC International Secretariat includes feature articles on important themes relating to gender and labour rights and 17 profiles of women involved in different ways in the movement for garment workers' rights.

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  • October 4, 2018

    Made by Women (Fabrique par des femmes)

    French translation of the Made by Women brochure from 2005.

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  • January 26, 2018

    Labour Without Liberty - Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry (abstract)

    [January 2018] Female migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. These are some conclusions from the report ‘Labour Without Liberty – Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry’ - published by the Indian Garment Labour Union, the India Committee of the Netherlands and Clean Clothes Campaign

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  • January 26, 2018

    Labour Without Liberty - Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry (full report)

    [January 2018] Female migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. These are some conclusions from the report ‘Labour Without Liberty – Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry’ - published by the Indian Garment Labour Union, the India Committee of the Netherlands and Clean Clothes Campaign

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  • November 30, 2016

    CCC urge EU to address Sri Lanka's labour violations prior to re-admission GSP+

    Clean Clothes Campaign, IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation urge the European Union to adopt a roadmap for Sri Lanka with time-bound measures to comply with the ILO core conventions before the country can benefit from GSP+. Sri Lanka is currently in serious breach of those conventions.

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  • August 29, 2013

    Migrant workers excluded from maternity leave

    In August, long time CCC partner the MAP Foundation in Thailand publicized the outrageous proposal by a senior official at the Thai Ministry of Labour. The proposal states that migrant workers should be excluded from the right to maternity leave, child allowance and unemployment benefits.

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1 - 8 of 13 Results