Words by Matthew Benjamin, Founder and CEO of Kapes
Throughout history, women have held a dominant role in the textile industry and represent more than 80% of garment workers to date. In developing countries, such as Indonesia, India, Cambodia and Bangladesh, working in textile factories may be the only opportunity for women to escape exploitation and earn a decent pay, in order to move out of poverty, provide for their families.
By giving these women the opportunity to work in ethical factories and create sustainable clothing whilst being in a safe and transparent environment, it will intuitively enable them to develop critical thinking and in time lead them to female empowerment on a personal and professional level. Consequently, there are women nowadays actively mobilising into labour movements and launching unions to challenge their societies; not fearing being marginalised or going into political or social oppression. Recent studies even showed that supporting women to develop leadership skills, build solidarity and take collective action helped them claim maternity pay, receive minimum wage and deal with abusive supervisors.
Saying this, leading companies in the textile industry need to unite as one to take responsibility for their environmental duty and reinforce their commitment to an ethical supply chain and processes. Brands today have an obligation to challenge gender equality and grow their workforce with more confident women, advocating for the change we need to see in the world.
Despite international efforts to challenge gender equality and enforce laws to protect women in the workplace, a vast majority are still being compelled to work under dreadful conditions and receive below par minimum wages, with health and safety often neglected. However, there are companies who, not only are leading the way in sustainable movements and fighting to save our ecosystem, but are also championing change in work processes and supply chains. An embodiment of this example is homegrown sustainable school uniform brand, Kapes, who has since its launch, been driving the agenda by partnering with factories that treat and pay their workers fairly, and one in particular in Nepal that offers jobs to marginalised women, giving them a chance to work and become independent. By partnering with this factory, Kapes is helping to employ survivors of exploitation, providing them with a chance to rebuild their lives by creating sustainable school wear that will not only protect children but also the environment.
We are all implicated in the consumption of clothing.In this aspect, as an individual, the opportunity to empower women can be as simple as supporting local companies, such as the likes of Kapes, who in return have a supply chain that is transparently creating school uniforms that are free from toxic chemicals that children can safely wear as well as who employ women living in hard conditions. Through support from the community around us, we can empower the change needed not only to help save our planet but ensure equality for women around the world..
Kapes, the homegrown sustainable school uniforms brand, launched in the UAE in September 2020, offering schools, parents and children ethically made school uniforms, free from harmful chemicals. Ethically produced in certified working conditions, Kapes uniforms are made in their entirety from quality sustainable materials, including GOTs certified organic cotton, recycled wool, recycled polyester, regenerated nylon, recycled ocean plastics and using only eco-friendly dyes. In addition, each school uniform is collected when outgrown to give them a new purpose as a pre-loved item, reducing emissions and supporting the community.