Gender Aspects of Decent Work in the Garment Industry

Gender aspects of decent work in the garment industry is one of the topics KARAT has been focusing on for over 10 years. As 80% of garment workers are women and a significant part of global clothing production takes place in the Region, focusing on the improvement of working conditions of women in that industry is very important to KARAT. Majority of related activities have been implanted in co-operation with Clean Clothes Campaing (CCC) , an NGO supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries. KARAT is also a co-founder of Clean Clothes- Polska , the first national platform of CCC in Central and Eastern Europe.

What were the objectives of the activities:

The objective of this project is improvement of working conditions of women workers involved in garment industry. This includes working conditions in the Region, as well as the working conditions outsider the Region. This means in the countries (such as China or Bangladesh) where garments bought by consumer from the Region are produced.

As effective addressing of the issue is possible only through cooperation of diverse stakeholders: NGOs, Trade Unions, consumers and companies. Therefore other important objectives of these activities are awareness raising, initiating consumers’ campaigns and coalition building, with KARAT being actively involved in Clean Clothes Campaign and co-founding Clean Clothes Polska.

How were we working:

KARAT has been addressing working conditions in the garment industry through diverse actions and projects. It includes:

  • Development and dissemination of research publications and awareness raising materials related to working conditions in garment industry
  • Initiating consumers’ campaign in the Region
  • Conducting trainings, education workshops and awareness raising events
  • Urgent appeals
  • Involvement in diverse initiatives of CCC at international level including CCC Gender Working Group, CCC workshops, meetings and Campaigns
  • Co-founding of Clean Clothes-Polska, which was done in 2009, together with Polish Humanitarian Organization, Polish Green Network, Grupa eFTe Warszawa, established. KARAT is a coordinator of CC-Polska. CC-Polska focuses on awareness raising, education and on-line campaign for the improvement of working conditions of garment industry workers
  • Implementation of “Fair Play Always in Fashion” – engaging women-consumers in the campaign for the improvement of working conditions of women in garment industry” (2009 – 2010). This project was funded by Women’s Day of Prayer GC and involved women consumers in the campaign for the improvement of working conditions of women producing the clothes they buy
  • Implementation of „Fair Play in Sportswear Industry” (2007 – 2009) The project raising public awareness about the conditions in which sport swear is produced and promoting sport rule of ‘fair play’ among consumers of sport wear, as well as in relations between sportswear producers and workers. The project was implemented with Sudwind Agentur , Austria, and Inkota , Germany and was co-funded by European Commission
  • Conducting activities funded by CIR (2007 – 2009) aimed at strengthening the involvement of civil society and activists in the improvement of the working conditions in garment industry.
  • Implementation of a project “Improving Work Conditions of Women Working in Clothing Factories in Poland” (2004 – 2005). The project focused on research of working conditions in garment factories followed by awareness raising activities aimed at improvement of the working conditions in garment industry in Poland.