Let’s put a stop to harassment, abuse and violence

A garment worker at a factory in Cambodia

Abuse isn’t in any woman’s job description

#March4Women supporters have got behind CARE’s campaign for global standards which would cut out harassment, abuse and violence in the workplace. More than 27,000 of you signed our letter to the UK fashion industry, and more than 15,000 added their names to our petition to the UK goverment.

The great news is that the International Labour Conference held in May-June 2018 agreed to set up a new ILO Convention on “Ending violence and harassment in the world of work”. The legally binding convention means that in the future countries will have to adopt national legislation to tackle workplace violence and harassment.

Read more in our press release World moves a step closer to ending violence and harassment at work.

Here’s how your support helped make that happen.

The UK fashion industry supports the Convention

Thank you – 27,387 of you signed our letter calling on UK fashion brands to protect the women who make our clothes.

On Wednesday 11th April we handed your letter to UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT) chief executive Adam Mansell.

The amazing news? He and the UKFT will alert 2,000 companies about the importance of backing a strong Convention to protect female garment workers from violence and abuse, and urge the UK’s largest retail consortium to get behind it.

The UK government is urged to get behind the Convention

When the International Labour Conference met in Geneva from 28th May, they needed to decide if there is enough support for the Convention.

Alok Sharma, the UK Minister for Employment, represented the UK government and we needed him to support the new law and make sure it is strong and effective.

Thank you – 15,546 of you signed our petition to Alok Sharma calling on the UK government to support a strong Convention that is:

  • legally binding
  • explicitly includes the most vulnerable workers such as unpaid care workers, domestic workers, workers in politics, sex workers
  • include reference to the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights to ensure companies adhere to standards throughout their supply chains

We delivered the petition to the UK government on 21st May.

Why we needed to take action

Nearly 1 in 3 women workers experience violence and harassment in many of the overseas factories making clothes to be sold on UK high streets.

Women like Chea [not her real name], a garment worker in Cambodia, who dreaded going to work because of the regular abuse she faced:

The men at the factory would stare at me and tell me that I was old enough ‘to be eaten’... Walking the small distance from my sewing machine to the toilet used to be very uncomfortable.

Or another worker at a garment factory in Cambodia who told us:

Sometimes, of course I think about not going to work any more, but then I think about my family and I know I cannot quit.

A woman at a garment factory in Bangladesh
A woman at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh

“When clothes are cheap, women are cheap.”

Nazma Akter, a trade unionist, activist and women’s leader from Bangladesh, spoke at the #March4Women rally at Trafalgar Square on 4 March 2018. She said: “​I started in a garment factory when I was 11 years old.”​

While I was making your dresses, I did not go to school; I did not get an education. I worked my hours in a sweatshop and I made 2 pounds a month.

“We faced a lot of challenges when I was young – long hours, often not paid on time, verbal and physical harassment.

“For many years now I have been fighting. Still conditions are very hard for us.”

When clothes are cheap, women are cheap. Nothing comes for free in this world. Nothing is a discount. Women pay with their blood and their sweat.

“To make change, we need solidarity. We need companies and consumers to listen to women’s voices, listen to women’s demands and respect them.”

Find out more