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Inspiring Women with social and environmental impact

Inspiring Women with social and environmental impact

 

by Aine Treanor

With the 100th year anniversary of International Women’s Day and the subsequent International Women’s Week a recent memory, the recognition of the contribution women all over the world make to social and environmental issues like ethical fashion is as relevant today as it was in 1911 (a day created as a result of the deaths of 146 women at a garment factory in New York city in March of that year).

Dirty roots to inspired shoots

From an industry made wealthy off of the backs of exploited female factory workers to an industry being led by the compassion and determination of strong women on a long path of fair and just reform, fashion is and has always been very much a woman’s issue.

harriet-lamb-001With Fairtrade Fortnight another important occasion of recent weeks, it is only fitting to begin by celebrating the woman whose successful campaign for Fairtrade is no longer a niche market but a multi million pound movement, running in 59 developing countries worldwide and benefiting 7.5 labourers and farmers around the world. Harriet Lamb, has spent much of her life between the UK and India where she lived as a child then worked in adult life on various co-operative projects with local farmers. Lamb became executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation in 2001 and in 2006 she received a CBE for her work and commitment to Fairtrade.  She now lives in south London with her husband and two boys and continues to promote Fairtrade  in the UK and abroad. The recent launch of the Fairtrade & Fairmined Gold mark is testament to the hard work and determination of a pioneering few.

Fairtrade Fashion Inspires

safia-minneyThere are certainly similarities in the level of passion and committment  Safia Minney emulates when campaigning for Fairtrade Fashion. Minney a leading figure for reform in fashion moved to Tokyo in her early twenties and after some time working at Tokyo’s first Body Shop she realised the significance of ethics in consuming. She soon began ‘Global Village’, a publication inspired by Eco friendly issues, which then developed into a business selling products that were produced ethically. This became known as People Tree. Today, this very same  fairtrade company is the UK’s leading fairtrade brand, it is endorsed by green celeb Emma Watson and is constantly raising the bar on ethical fashion, improving the lives of artisans and manufacturers throughout the developing world.

Embracing social & environmental justice

Both Harriet Lamb and  Safia Minney demonstrate how focusing on reformed and fair labour can be embraced in an often hostile and commercial market which are constantly competing with cheaper, faster and increasingly more unethical products from value and high street brands. Furthermore, ethical fashion is evolving on a much larger scale too. Female Eco designers such as Linda Loudermilk and Stella McCartney have both shown how versatile organic and natural materials can be, how they can become transformed into fashionable and beautiful garments and how women can create fashion that is both inspiring and created with genuine care.

tepper-marlin1880a_01

Women as drivers

From one area of ethical manufacturing to another, so many top social justice movements have been initiated and developed by strong passionate women. From Janet Lacey, founder of international development charity Christian Aid to Alice Tepper Marlin, founder  & CEO of the Social Accountability International (SAI) which serves internationally to improve workplaces, communities and the ethical treatment of workers.

Alice Tepper Marlin summarises her passion and committment to issues of social justice…

“Imbued with a newly influential concept, consumers have begun to embrace the simple, quiet activism of casting their economic vote conscientiously at the checkout counter, an act which can empower us all.”

History demonstrates that strong and passionate women  are the frequently drivers of social and environment justice and continue to be heard in fighting for the rights of individuals on a global level.

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