Just do women's empowerment
As the 2012 Olympics sports brands scandal hits the headlines this week, IDS researcher Naomi Hossain highlights two very interesting facts that War on Want missed out in their study of the exploitation of Bangladeshi garments workers by Adidas, Nike and Puma.
First, while the same old sweatshop problems remain, those women workers have changed dramatically in the last ten years: they have a lot more collective and political power than before as a result of several years of direct, often violent, action and organisation. While the exploitation remains a serious concern, we must not forget that these are a group of women whose power to articulate their own demands has grown, and grown in large part because of their work in these factories.
The second missing fact is that the UK taxpayer not only buys the clothes that these workers make, but in the case of Nike, it also then funds their corporate social responsibility activities through funding to the Nike Foundation. Nike, whose outsourced women workers complain of long hours, illegal and unpaid overtime, abuse and general ill treatment, appears to be the self-same Nike whose Foundation promotes The Girl Effect – an effort to get girls in the developing world empowered.
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