Guideline for respectful Fashion Activist Communication
This is supposed to be an empathetic reminder to my fellow fashion (no matter if fast, fair, slow or whatever – you all have an opinion and a bold voice during this week) marketing peers and companies preparing campaigning for the upcoming #fashionrevolutionweek2023 as I am in Bangladesh now, listening and (un)learning:
Next year on 24th April 2023 is the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories manufacturing clothes for 29 Western brands, killed at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500 (data from ILO, people on the ground here are talking about more than 4,000 injured). Only five months earlier, at least 112 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident, trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka.
1. Bangladeshi workers’ rights activists and the garment workers themselves call this day #ranaplazaremembranceday and not #fashionrevolutionday. The activist week is called #fashionrevolutionweek. Therefore, please be over-cautious with your choice of words and language: be simple, but contextualize with respect and authenticity. Be direct. Use understandable, decolonised language for your audience.
2. Some survivors and some children/relatives of deceased victims have received small compensation payments by the government and only a few Western brands (most haven`t!!!). Campaigning and protesting on the ground are still happening, led by local grassroots movements, NGOs and trade unions. If you wish to contribute locally (do your homework and research), choose the donation beneficiaries wisely. I can recommend supporting my friends from the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), Awaj Foundation, Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS) or the solidarity fund of German NGO FEMNET (links below).
3. Do not stress out your supply chain partners shortly before campaigning asking for workers photos and voices. Do not misuse imagery and voices from workers and make sure to follow all personal data and imagery protection laws. You need to ask every single worker before publishing his/her/their face and (properly translated) opinions and feelings.
4. Be active and contribute to better pricing strategies supporting better wages, factory safety, etc. throughout the year. This is not a one-time activity. It should be the core of your long overdue sustainability efforts which are mostly focused on carbon and circularity models (weaving some indirect critique in here).
5. If you are an EU citizen: support, share as often as possible and sign the Good Clothes Fair Pay campaign by Fashion Revolution demanding living wage legislation across the garment, textile and footwear sector. 1 million signatures are needed from EU citizens to push for legislation that requires companies to conduct living wage due diligence in their supply chains.
PLEASE SHARE! THANKS! <3
National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF): http://ngwfbd.com/
Awaj Foundation: http://awajfoundation.org/
Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS): https://www.bcwsbd.org/
Femnet e.V.: https://femnet.de/en/donations.html
Good Clothes, Fair Pay: https://www.goodclothesfairpay.eu/
Photo: 17th November 2022, with Afia (17), Bijoy (18) and Parvez (12), orphans of former garment workers at the Rana Plaza premises in front of the Rana Plaza Memorial, behind the open space where the building stood; Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. (I do not wish to spread any kind of Global South misery here or anything in this direction. A lot has changed for the better in the country and in the industry, due to workers standing up for themselves and some initiatives contributing to more ecological ways of producing. I was asked by Afia, Bijoy and Parvez to use this image when I told them about inviting industry players to respectfully remember the tragedy.)