The right of women to live free from abuse and harassment is starting to unite the world, as people rise up to say: enough is enough. In the United States, this movement may have ignited from the disturbing collective experience of electing a President who not only doesn’t seem to respect women, but as far as I am concerned has a history of abusing and objectifying them as well. As a father of three strong, intelligent young women, I am overwhelmed with concern. As the CEO of a fashion brand, I am compelled to find new ways to take mindful action, and to enable others to do the same.
It is a problem that stretches to all places—from congress to casting rooms, from street corners to factories and homes—often occurring behind closed doors and without justice for the victims, or repercussions for the victimizers. We can no longer hide from the truth of this ongoing abuse, or pretend that it is someone else’s problem to fix.
A beauty pageant in Lima recently made headlines when contestants stated facts about abuse and harassment instead of body measurements. These facts were true and shocking: more than 25% of Peruvian girls and teenagers are abused in their schools; over 70% of women in Peru suffer street harassment. The list went on. Suddenly the hashtag #MisMedidasSon (my measurements are) took off, much as the #MeToo hashtag has in the USA.
We care immensely about the artisans in the INDIGENOUS supply chain. The majority of our fashion has been knit in Peru for the last twenty years, so we comprehend the scope of the problem. Peru can be a harsh place for women. Lima is ranked as the 5th most dangerous big city for women in the world. This widespread harassment and abuse is why the INDIGENOUS fashion brand helps fund job training programs, shelters, and childcare for women escaping domestic abuse in the country. Yet supporting our own artisans and leading by example can only go so far to address this overwhelming problem plaguing not just Peru, but the entire world. That’s why, as part of our Holiday with Purpose campaign, INDIGENOUS created a collection of clothing that helps END gender-based violence in fashion supply chains. All retail profits go to the pioneering non-profit Global Fund for Women.
It is time we all realize that our dollars are like votes. And that these votes are an effective way to create change and progress. We should not support fashion companies—or elected officials for that matter—that neglect, deny, or abuse the rights of women. That’s why we are giving our customers a chance to make their dollars count two-fold this holiday season. Not only will each purchase help the women artisans in our own supply chain, profits will also directly empower women garment workers around the world to stand up for their rights. Global Fund for Women’s new initiative will give women garment workers the tools, knowledge, and funds to change the garment industry from the inside out. Together, we can ensure that #fashionempowers.
It’s time we each step up and make our voices heard… Not just for women in our own country, but for the victimized and the disempowered everywhere. Let’s raise our voices loud in support of the human rights of all women.