Fashion Industry Faces Period Poverty: A Call to Action

Blog Post by : Karun Tyagi

Period poverty is a serious issue affecting millions of women and girls worldwide. It is defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, safe and sanitary sanitation facilities, and menstrual education and information. This issue is frequently overlooked and stigmatised.

The fashion industry employs a large number of women all over the world, from garment factories to design studios to retail stores. Women are essential at every stage of the fashion supply chain, from raw material production to finished product sales. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the fashion industry employs approximately 75 million people worldwide, with women making up the vast majority of the workforce. However, the proportion of women in the industry varies by sector and region. Women make up the majority of the workforce in the garment manufacturing sector, accounting for approximately 80% of all workers. Many of these women work in low-wage, precarious jobs, such as sewing operators and packers. Despite their significant contribution to the industry, however, women in the fashion workforce face a number of challenges and inequalities. Low wages are a major issue in the fashion industry, especially for women, who make up a significant majority of the workforce in garment manufacturing and other low-paying positions. The industry’s low wages frequently fall below a living wage, which is the amount required for workers to support themselves and their families. Wages in the fashion industry are low for a variety of reasons, including a lack of regulation and enforcement, global competition, and the exploitative practises of some fashion brands and retailers. Women are especially vulnerable to low wages because they are frequently concentrated in lower-paid and less-skilled positions within the industry. Low wages have a significant impact on the lives of fashion industry women. It makes it difficult for them to support themselves and their families, which can lead to poverty, food insecurity, and poor health outcomes. Women are frequently unable to access basic rights such as healthcare, education, and safe housing due to low wages.

Period poverty is aggravated by low wages for women in the fashion manufacturing sector, as women may be unable to afford menstrual products or related healthcare services. Many low-income women, particularly in developing countries, are unable to obtain safe and sanitary menstrual products due to financial constraints. Low wages also contribute to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene education and information, which can lead to unsafe and unsanitary menstrual practises, exacerbating the problem of period poverty. Furthermore, low wages can lead to poor living conditions, such as inadequate housing and sanitation, which can increase the risk of infection and other menstrual health problems.

Period poverty is a major hinderance to achieving several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty, promote gender equality, and ensure universal access to health and education. Period poverty, in particular, is directly related to the following SDGs:

SDG 1: No Poverty –  Period poverty is a type of poverty that affects people who do not have access to menstrual products, as well as menstrual education and information. By addressing period poverty, we can help to reduce poverty and inequality and promote a more just and equitable society.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being-  Period poverty can have serious health consequences because it can lead to unsafe and unsanitary menstrual practises, increasing the risk of infection and disease. We can promote good health and well-being for all by ensuring equal access to menstrual products and education.

SDG 4: Quality Education – Period poverty can have a significant impact on education by preventing girls from attending school or fully participating in school activities. We can help ensure that all girls have access to quality education and reach their full potential by addressing period poverty.

SDG 5: Gender Equality – Period poverty is a gendered issue that disproportionately affects women and girls. We can promote gender equality and empower women and girls to participate fully in all aspects of society by addressing period poverty.

Fashion brands can take several actions to address period poverty for women working in the fashion sector. These actions include:

Access to menstrual products and education: Fashion brands can collaborate with organisations that provide menstrual products and education to distribute them to their employees. This can include making menstrual products available in restrooms, as well as providing educational materials and programmes that teach employees about menstrual health and hygiene.

Creating a safe and supportive working environment: Fashion brands can ensure that their employees have access to safe and sanitary sanitation facilities, such as toilets and handwashing stations. They can also provide a welcoming and non-discriminatory work environment that recognises and respects the needs of menstruating employees.

Gender equality and empowerment: Fashion companies can help to promote gender equality and empower women in the workplace. This can include ensuring that women are paid equally for equal work, providing opportunities for advancement and better positions, and implementing work-life balance policies.

Supporting sustainable and ethical production practises: Fashion brands can ensure that their supply chains promote social sustainability and ethical practises, ensuring women workers receive fair wages and work in safe conditions. This can help to reduce poverty and inequality, both of which are underlying causes of period poverty.

Partnering with organisations addressing period poverty: Fashion brands can support organisations addressing period poverty and promoting menstrual health and hygiene. This can include donating money, resources, and expertise, as well as taking part in advocacy efforts to raise awareness and promote change.

Overall, fashion brands can play an important role in addressing period poverty for women working in the fashion industry by providing access to menstrual products and education, promoting gender equality and empowerment, promoting sustainable and ethical practises, and collaborating with organisations working to address this issue. Fashion brands can help to create a more just and equitable fashion industry by taking these steps, which support the rights and dignity of all workers, regardless of gender or location.


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