Ethical FashionOperating under a set of core ethics, sustainable fashion brands eliminate harsh impacts on the environment while also providing safe workplaces and fair wages for the individuals making the products, the majority of whom are women. U.N. Women says increasing female employment “boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality.” This is a major step forward to the alleviation of global poverty in developing nations. Keep reading to learn more about these five top ethical fashion brands.

5 Ethical Fashion Brands Focused on Poverty Reduction

  1. ABLE
    This brand focuses on providing ethical fashion by supporting economic opportunities for women in an effort to eradicate poverty. After seeing firsthand the effects of generational poverty in Ethiopia, Barrett Ward, ABLES’s founder, created the company to give “women an opportunity to earn a living, empowering them to end the cycle of poverty.” With 45 million women employed in the fashion industry, ABLE sees the investment in women as a necessary business strategy to bolster communities and economies worldwide. The company is proud that 98 percent of its employees are women and challenges the culture of the fashion industry by publishing wages, an act of transparency directly attributed to the protection and empowerment of the women it invests in.
  2. Parker Clay
    Parker Clay is a company that values timeless craftsmanship in order to provide quality leather goods to its consumers and economic opportunities for its artisans. But at its core, the founders saw an “opportunity to empower vulnerable women through enterprise” after learning that many women and girls are targets for prostitution and human trafficking in Ethiopia. In fact, in the country’s capital, around 150,000 work in the commercial sex industry.

    Parker Clay partners with Ellilta – Women At Risk, a nonprofit based in Ethiopia that helps women from being lured into prostitution or trafficking. Many of the women supported by this organization work at Ellilta Products where Parker Clay sources its blankets. Providing women with an opportunity to work is more than just a job, Parker Clay believes it is the start to social and economic stability.

    By reimagining the process of apparel production, KNOWN SUPPLY works “with underserved populations … to show the powerful impact clothing purchases can have” by supporting the women who make the clothes in more than one way. KNOWN SUPPLY chooses to celebrate each maker by “humanizing” each product with signatures.

    The company also provides consumers with clear information about the country where each ethical fashion good is made, accompanied by a gallery of the women who make them. This feature gives consumers a look into the lives and communities being directly impacted by their purchases.

  4. Carry117
    At Carry117, providing economic empowerment to at-risk women is a necessary foundation for sustainable development. This brand, based in Korah, Ethiopia — a place where disease and poverty run rampant — believes that when women are empowered, families are strengthened. Their goal is to give these individuals “a hand up out of poverty, with a unified desire to bring change to the community.”
  5. Anchal Project
    In 2010, Colleen Clines, Co-Founder and CEO of Anchal, was inspired to start the company after a trip to India where she learned about “the extreme oppression women faced as commercial sex workers.” Today, the nonprofit not only sells fair-trade goods made of artwork and textiles significant to the artisans’ journey to empowerment but also provides holistic opportunities for the artisans to stay empowered in their communities.

Danyella Wilder
Photo: Flickr

How to Help the Extreme Poor in IndiaIndia is the second most populous country in the world and hosts one-third of the world’s extreme poor. It has the third highest number of people living with and dying from HIV/AIDS, and 60.4 percent of its population lives with unimproved sanitation facility access, mostly affecting Indians living in rural communities. Here are four ways to help the extreme poor in India.

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 47 percent of Indian girls are married by the age of 18. While it is illegal for girls in India to marry before the age of 18, many still do because their families live in poverty.

One method to combat child marriage is education. The non-profit Girls Not Brides, for example, is currently fundraising for Shadhika, an organization that pays tuition for at-risk Indian girls. Right now, they are $8,568 away from a $30,000 goal.

Donations to this cause enable more Indian girls living in extreme poverty to attend school and avoid underage marriage. By donating to this and other similar organizations, those who are not currently in India can still assist those in poverty.

Contact Congress
For 2017, the U.S. government plans to spend $49.5 million of foreign aid on health in India.  Half of this aid will be allocated for HIV/AIDS. To ensure the effectiveness of this aid, Congress is currently in the process of potentially passing the Global Health Innovation Act (H.R. 1660).

This act requires the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to give an annual report to Congress describing the “development and use of global health innovations” in their work.

Emailing or calling elected representatives will support this bill on top of promoting the use of health innovation to achieve an HIV/AIDS-free generation. Representatives need to know that their constituents are interested in a goal in order for it to get the attention it deserves.

Shopping is another way to help the extreme poor in India. Currently, about ten million Indian women are commercial sex workers–the Anchal Project wants to change that.

The Anchal Project employs Indian women, 85 percent of whom were once in the sex trade, to create and make original designs for ecologically sound clothing and fabrics (mainly scarves).

Shopping here will support women in their goal of earning full-time employment and leading change in their families and communities, in effect supporting the extreme poor in working their way out of poverty.

Stay Informed
As most of the world’s poor live in India, the country is a great focus for The Borgen Project and other organizations working to fight poverty. Read up on current struggles and efforts to improve conditions for the poor in India to better learn how you can keep helping in the future.

While people are often told that they as an individual can change the world, it often seems that the change desired is too arduous to achieve. Nevertheless, a community of people can come together to end global poverty and help the extreme poor in India.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr