Women’s Rights in the Apparel Industry:
Ending Violence, Empowering Voices
The purpose of this conference is to strengthen relationships among labor rights and women’s rights advocates by developing shared analysis and identifying points of collaboration.
This conference is convened by the International Labor Rights Forum. The conference is sponsored by American Federation of Teachers, Berger-Marks Foundation, Solidarity Center, and United Methodist Women. Co-hosts include AFL-CIO, Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), Coalition of Labor Union Women, Feminist Majority Foundation, Just Associates, Model Alliance, Moriah Fund, Rutgers Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and United Students Against Sweatshops.
1. Connect: Strengthen connections and build solidarity between women's rights and labor rights initiatives to grow the demand for corporate accountability policies that help empower workers’ voices and women’s leadership in apparel industry reforms, with a near-term focus on Bangladesh and Cambodia – two hot spots where significant reform initiatives are being proposed.
2. Analyze: Share analysis of successful strategies – such as the Maquila Organizing Project in Honduras – and how such initiatives can help further women’s rights to participation, end violence against women, improve working conditions, and build power for women garment workers in global corporations' supply chains.
3. Act: Strategize on next steps to support women garment workers in building their leadership within the trade union movement and their ability to speak out and claim their rights at work and in society.
Welcome by Dr. Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers
Introduction by Judy Gearhart, International Labor Rights Forum
- Goals of the conference
- Recap recent successes and current challenges in driving solutions for working women's rights and corporate accountability in the garment industry in Bangladesh and globally
Why Labor Rights Advocacy is Key to Ending Violence Against Women
10:00-11:30am Panel One: Perspectives from the Field: Women’s Leadership and Organizing Challenges in the Global Garment Industry
Presentations and Discussion:
- Nomita Nath, President, Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF)
- Yang Sophorn, President of Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
- Evangelina Argueta, Coordinator of Maquila Worker Organizing Project, Central General de Trabajadores, Honduras
- Moderator: Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center
11:30am-12:30pm Discussion: Expanding Advocacy to Support Women Workers’ Leadership
- Ellie Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation
- Cathy Feingold, Director of International Department, AFL-CIO
- Radhika Balakrishnan, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University
- Moderator: Judy Gearhart, Executive Director, International Labor Rights Forum
12:30-1:30pm Lunch and keynote presentation by Congressman George Miller
1:30-3:30pm Strategy Session
Based on the plenary discussion, participants will prioritize key issues for deepening their analysis and planning collaboration. Topics will include:
- Building Power: Identifying effective strategies that build women workers’ power and mobilize resources to support women’s leadership and solutions driven by women workers.
- Kick-off discussants: Nerea Craviotto, Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), and Vilma Gómez, President, Union at Jerzees Buenavista factory, Honduras
- Facilitator: Lisa VeneKlasen, Executive Director, Just Associates
- Remediating Violence: Next steps in the campaign to secure adequate compensation for survivors of factory disasters in Bangladesh.
- Kick-off discussants: Dina Siddiqi, BRAC University, and Nomita Nath, President, Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF)
- Facilitator: Liana Foxvog, International Labor Rights Forum
- Defining the Future of Effective Corporate Accountability: Drawing on the Honduran Agreement and the Bangladesh Safety Accord to drive transparency, accountability and a meaningful role for workers in those countries, Cambodia, and beyond.
- Kick-off discussant: Tola Moeun, Community Legal Education Center, Cambodia
- Facilitator: Theresa Haas, Worker Rights Consortium
3:30-4:00pm Closing: Building Momentum for the Future