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Indian Fashion Industry Must Embrace Safety, Says Suki Dusanj-Lenz at Lakme Fashion Week

 India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world

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Indian fashion industry
Sabyasachi Mukherjee's show at Lakme Fashion Week 2011 on day 1. Wikimedia
  • The country’s coordinator for Fashion Revolution India stressed upon the global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry
  • The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory
  • The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution so that what the world embraces what’s safe, clean and fair 

Mumbai, August 20, 2017: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution India.

For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry.

The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed after a structural failure in the building on April 24, 2013. The workers were making garments for the international market.

“The sad thing is the staff was complaining about the building but nobody listened,” she said.

Dusanj-Lenz is an advocate for gender equality, sustainability and champions the need for a fair and transparent fashion industry. She spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2017.

“Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro came together and founded the Fashion Revolution, which has spread to 100 countries. We are working towards a safer, fairer, cleaner fashion industry.”

Dusanj-Lenz is also Executive Director at the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director at MARD, a people powered initiative campaigning against discrimination.

Also Read: Eco-friendly Fashion: Should India Contribute on this Booming Global Market?

The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way clothes were sourced, produced and purchased so that what the world wears was made in a safe, clean and fair way.

“We want to empower every spectrum of the supply chain to transform the industry into a more sustainable one.”

Would she like to share about the sustainability issues of the Indian fashion industry?

“There are layers of complexities in the fashion industry but one thing for sure is that India must look to international standards for the safety of the staff?

“There are chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world, yet India still uses them.

“Are our lives any less than those of another country? In Kanpur, the leather making industry is astonishingly hazardous to the staff. Have you watched that movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Remember that chemical that was banned in the US that is the subject of that movie. Well, the Indian industry still uses it and our staff is exposed to the dangers of such chemicals,” she added.

“Let’s not have the people that make our garments or shoes pay the price for our fashion,” she added.

Talking about sustainable fashion in Indian fashion industry, Dusanj-Lenz said: “On the upside, India also has some incredibly sustainable brands and a massive recyclability culture which we must celebrate and encourage. Sustainable Fashion Day at the LFW brought many of them together.”

She said around 80 per cent of the garment makers in India were women.

“It’s important that we hear their voice and work to campaign for them and not against them. Fashion Revolution wants to educate the consumer about the damage throw away fashion has on our environment.

“We want to inform people about the dark side of polyester and viscose both in a landfill and the chemical process… There is always a price to pay for cheap fashion. Someone somewhere is paying for it,” she added. (IANS)

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UN Launches Campaign to Bring Young Generation into Gender Equality Fight

UN Women announced its new "Generation Equality: Realizing women's rights for an equal future'' at a news conference

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gender equality
FILE - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of U.N. Women, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New York, March 7, 2018. VOA

The U.N. women’s agency launched a campaign Monday to bring a young generation of women and men into the campaign for gender equality ahead of next year’s 25th anniversary of the conference that adopted the only international platform to achieve women’s rights and empowerment.

UN Women announced its new “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” at a news conference where it also made public events planned to mark adoption of the 150-page platform for action to achieve gender equality by 189 governments at the 1995 Beijing women’s conference.

“Today, nearly 25 years after the historic Beijing conference, the reality is that not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality,” said a statement from UN Women’s executive director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Despite some progress, real change has been too slow for most women and girls in the world, and we see significant pushback in many places.”

“Women continue to be discriminated against and their contributions undervalued,” she added. “They work more, earn less and have fewer choices about their bodies, livelihoods and futures than men – and they experience multiple forms of violence at home, at work and in public spaces.”

gender equality
Chinese women delegates walk together to pose outside the Great Hall of the People after attending a plenary session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, Thursday, March 8, 2018. VOA

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the General Equality campaign is aimed at speeding systematic change “on the laws, policies and outdated mindsets that must no longer curtail women’s voice, choice and safety.”

UN Women’s deputy executive director, Asa Regner, said at the news conference that there have been positive results since Beijing. She pointed to a record number of girls in school, better access to health care, a decrease in maternal mortality, more women in top positions in the business world and fresh efforts to address violence against women and to put women at peace negotiating tables. But she said the biggest challenges are to change male-dominated “power structures” that leave far more women and girls facing poverty and violence.

Ahead of next year’s anniversary events, UN Women has asked all 193 U.N. member nations to submit details and data on what their countries have done to implement the 1995 Beijing platform, Regner said. As of Friday, she said, it had received 22 responses but hopes the entire membership will answer.

The Beijing platform called for bold actions in 12 critical areas for women and girls including combatting poverty and violence, improving human rights and access to reproductive and sexual health care, and ensuring that all girls get an education and that women are at the top levels of business and government, and the top table in peace negotiations.

Events leading up to next year’s anniversary include the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women’s annual meeting in March 2020 devoted to Beijing’s implementation, a high-level meeting when world leaders gather for the annual General Assembly session in September 2020, and a “Global Gender Equality Forum” co-hosted by France and Mexico in France bringing civil society representatives and activists of all ages together to look to the future. No date has been announced yet for that event.

gender equality
UN Women announced its new “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” at a news conference. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at Monday evening’s opening of an exhibition on women who were part of the Soviet Union’s military effort in World War II that “we will not achieve peace” or any of the U.N.’s development goals for 2030 “without the full and equal participation of women.”

“Yet we all know that there is still a stark imbalance of power around the world, and we are even seeing a backlash in some areas against women’s rights,” he said.

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Regner said the majority of countries favor progress on gender equality, but there is “pushback.” There are governments and movements, she said, that value “so-called traditional family values and other ideas around women’s and men’s roles both in families and in societies which do not correspond to international agreements, and which would not necessarily give women the space and possibility to decide over their own lives, bodies, economic empowerment, etc.”

Regner, a former Swedish minister, said UN Women’s task is to spur implementation of Beijing and other agreements – and “we will never back down.” (VOA)