Did you know that there are 75 million garment workers in the world, and almost all of them earn far below the average income of their country?
In China, garment workers make 20% of the national average wage.
In Bangladesh, where poverty is rampant, 65%.
In the United States, 51%.*
And across the board, 75% of these garment workers are women.
Did you know that the world consumes 400% more clothing today than 20 years ago? That fast fashion means now more waste in our landfills, more depletion of our water resources, more pollution of land and water from the chemicals and dyes used in manufacturing?
Of course you did. Because you've been making conscious, thoughtful choices about dressing yourself or you wouldn't be reading this. For Ibu allies, this isn't academic. This is as personal as the tunic you're wearing.
Hmm...did you say tunic? I did, because what Ibu allies return to again and again are our Indian cotton tunics - naturally dyed, block-printed and hand-embroidered - by the women of Sevya.
Here are Sevya women doing business: divvying up wages, controlling quality, running their lives, writing a new story. Words don't really catch it: fair trade, sustainable, slow fashion. I tire of those buzzwords. But the strength in their faces, the food on their tables, the fresh air in their workspaces, the savings in their credit union - this says it all.
When I met the woman overseeing this enterprise in the US, she quietly confessed that it is her spiritual calling. Sevya is a Sanskrit word which means caring through service. And when you tie on a Sevya sarong printed by a woman's hand, slip on tunic animated by her needle and thread, or gift one of Aabha's striped handwoven scarves, I call that caring through wearing.
Today I am celebrating this new story in the making, and our chance to help write it - along with thousands of women of India. Let's make our own numbers.
Keep the hope alive,
Susan Hull Walker
* numbers from PRI report, 2017: Principles for Responsible Investment