There are a lot of factors that go into making clothing sustainable. Clothing can be organic, recycled, or vintage, but a Fair Trade label means no people were exploited in the company’s supply chain. Let’s look at how choosing Fair Trade fashion helps promote education for girls in developing countries.
So how does this relate to girls education? Well, pretty directly! Millions of children are trapped in forced servitude, where they work in hazardous factories weaving textiles and sewing cheap clothes, rather than going to school. And more than half of those children are girls.
In particular, the labor performed by girls is less visible and more culturally appropriate (think: sewing, cleaning, household tasks), so their involvement in forced labor may actually be underestimated. This forced labor can have disastrous consequences for girls’ education prospects because it erodes their physical and mental well-being, if it doesn’t just keep them out of school altogether.
Children are notoriously exploited in garment factories, where they work 16-hour days for mere pennies. Children who work in these factories have no hope for an education; this is especially true for girls, since the onus of earning a living wage to support their families is often placed on them.
Sustainable fashion writer Amy DuFault brings up another interesting point. Some “sustainable fashion” brands make clothes that are organic or recycled, but does an eco-friendly textile really matter if it was stitched together by a child stuck in servitude? Of course not!
Sustainable fashion should be at the forefront of promoting girls’ (and all children’s) rights to an education, but it often meets the same pitfalls of conventionally made clothing.
But Fair Trade certification ensures the product has been consciously made (which doesn’t include the forced labor of minors).
[Stripe pattern image from Shutterstock.com]