If you didn’t know, the majority of the apparel we wear is made by women in developing countries, in unpleasant and cruel environments. This is a reality.

According to UNESCO: Women constitute one-half of the world’s population, they do two-thirds of the world’s work, they earn one-tenth of the world’s income and they own one-hundredth of the world’s property including land.

Women’s responsibilities place them in a unique position to improve human and economic well-being and to conserve and maintain the natural environment. Yet their needs, their work, and their voices are often not considered a priority. As a result, women in many countries do not have equal access to education, healthcare, employment, land, credit, technology or political power.

This sounds like an oppressive practice that the fashion industry, producers and we as consumers have embraced, and worse yet, have normalized. We use to be able to say that we didn’t know, but now we do, and we have to do something about it.

The good news is we can do something about it! With this perilous situation, there are vast amounts of potential for the fashion industry to empower and uplift women. But, it’s going to take a lot of work.

What you can do:

01 | Educate Yourself
Turning a blind eye is  not possible anymore, so lean in, learn the facts and let them motivate you to change the way you think, feel and shop. There are several resources available at your fingertips, however, if you’re not sure, you can start with the following:

The Note Passer – A visual expression of sustainable concepts. The Note Passer is an inspiration for better, sustainable future; one that’s full of more meaning and less waste.

Ecocult – Ecocult runs the gamut on sustainability when it comes to the business and pleasure of fashion and lifestyle.

Thr3efold – A connector for brands and ethical factories in developing countries, but also a wealth of knowledge with an insider’s look into the role of women and fashion.

02 | Shop Ethically
It will take some getting use to, and perhaps it will cost more than you would normally spend on a quick trip to The Gap, but there is so much more value in it. The more we start to move our dollars towards ethical fashion options, the more demand there will be for it, and the more competitive price points. There are options out there.

03 | Empower Designers
For this to work, we have to start viewing female workers as valuable and cultivate an environment that uplifts women, by challenging the status quo. The Rana Plaza catastrophe in 2013 was an awakening moment for the world. In order to prevent anything as such from occurring again, we need transparent and slow production to take precedence. We have the power to demand transparency from brands, producers and even ourselves.

One brand that is using their company to fight for women’s empowerment is Chilote Shoes. Chilote Shoes are gorgeous positive impact wool slippers, handmade in Patagonia through a coop system of ethical production.

There is no factory and therefore, each pair is made “slow” with care and pride by independent artisan women doing what they know and love: knitting.

The slippers were co-created with the local community to empower and sustain a unique culture and craft. They are harnessing the history and heritage of the artisan women in Patagonia to not only provide a fair wage system of creating an income but also to tell their story. Chilote also prides themselves on their partnership with the artisans and their craft in Patagonia. They work independently, orchestrating their local network and production, which is an integral part of the high-quality standards of their products.

What is even more exciting is that when you purchase Chilote Shoes, you connect directly with the woman who made them through the QR codes. The product codes link to the artisan group you are supporting who crafted your unique pair showing their geo-location in Patagonia.

Chilote Shoes is providing women with something beautiful, the opportunity to champion ethical working environments and gain access to fair wages, community, and a future.

Learn More About / Shop Chilote Shoes
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At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.