Safety and Sustainability in Textiles is a Women’s Rights Issue

Women keep the textile industry running. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s garment workers are women. Garment-related global supply chains provide critical jobs and capital that help women workers to raise their standard of living and provide for themselves and their families. Yet, these jobs and the women doing them are vulnerable in global supply chains. Low wages and unsafe working conditions are the norm. And a recent study shows that garment factory workers are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19, highlighting the urgency of addressing inequities and unsafe conditions.   

Women are not only the majority of workers making clothing, but they also make up the majority of shoppers who buy clothes. Consider, for example, that millennial women spend 226 percent more on clothing than their male counterparts.  On average, 89 percent of women across the world reported controlling or sharing daily shopping needs, compared to 41 percent of men. As both producers and consumers, women are at the center of the clothing economy. That’s why prioritizing safety and sustainability in textiles is, at its core, a women’s rights issue.  

Here’s how OEKO-TEX® is addressing these issues that disproportionately affect women, and how consumers can do their part, too: 

Equality and Fairness for Workers: Fair wages, fair working hours, equal treatment of workers, and gender equality are requirements for OEKO-TEX® certifications. 

Health and Safety for Workers: OEKO-TEX® STeP certification verifies employers are protecting the good health and well-being of workers. 

Transparency and Tools for Consumers: Through traceability and supply chain transparency, MADE IN GREEN labels show consumers how to make more sustainable shopping choices and help manufacturers implement and improve environmentally friendly production.  

As we look back and celebrate women who made history as barrier breakers and pioneers in their fields, we must also lift up everyday women around the globe who keep our industries and economies running. This Women’s History Month, let’s remember that our actions affect women’s futures.