According to Verité.org, over 85% of the workers in the global apparel and footwear sectors are women. In Mexico alone more than 4,500 foreign-owned assembly plants with low-tariff benefits employ some 1.3 million workers, 75 percent of them young women between the ages of 16 and 24. In some not-so-unique cases these women are treated very poorly in the workplace. One Mexican woman thought that being sexually harassed by both her supervisors and her peers was “just part of being a female working at the assembly plant.” The full Verité Works Report, Advancing Women’s Rights and Social Responsibility: Capacity Building in Mexico is available here.
Such behavior is unacceptable. Even more unacceptable is for the textile industry to continue ignoring such heinous acts against humanity. The situation in the textile industry comes even more into focus when we consider that women make up 70% of the world’s poor, as per the International Labour Organization. It is difficult for these women to climb out of poverty since they often earn less. For example, the United Nations reports women wage earners in Sri Lanka earn 20% less per day than their male counterparts.