How Empowered Women Empower Women - Ethical Silk Sleepwear
Image: Founder, Lily with master weaver Hira and trainee
Ethical Kind is inspired by a personal journey founded by Lily Chong. Lily was raised by her grandparents and single mother, who worked as a garment worker with a family heritage in silk farming in South China. At a young age, Lily saw how the fashion industry's exploitation impacted the people and the planet and how rural communities continued to face education and social inequalities caused by poverty, cultural norms, and practices, particularly as girls. She decided to use business as a force for good, to empower women and uplift rural communities at all levels in the supply chain.
Introducing women to sustainability and ethical silk production, so-called 'organic peace silk', gives women a shopping alternative to silk that is better for the people and planet. Organic peace silk is a more humane type of sericulture that promotes regenerative farming and allowing silkworm to complete its natural life cycle to a silk moth. With women representing 80% of all silk purchasing decisions today and an occupation constituting over 60 % of women workforce in rural sericulture (silk farming) activities in India, organic peace silk is a fabric for empowered women.
Women in Sericulture
Sericulture (silk production) is essentially a village-based industry that employs both skilled and unskilled labour. Women take employment in the field, silkworm rearing, harvesting, silk reeling, weaving, and garment-making. Women are preferred because of their maternal instincts and industrious nature, from the loving care for rearing silkworms to their fingers' dexterity in getting the fine filaments from the cocoons, reeling of silk yarn, and weaving of fabric. In all these activities, women have shown their mettle and performed their tasks most skillfully.
1. Empowering income generation
Image: Hira, started as an apprentice at age 16, she is now the master weaver and teachers others the skill
Due to limited land availability and agricultural cash returns confined to one or two seasons in the year, villages have low periods of extreme income generation. To avoid poverty, many families would migrate to cities and live in shanties huts for work.
Sericulture has provided women with supplementary income to support their families. By setting business up in the remote areas for organic peace silk in Jarkhand, India. The operation has allowed women to work from home and provide an economic perspective without moving to cities.
Today 360 citizens have begun working for the operation and benefitting from economic self-independence. A further 200 & more people would be employed directly from nearby villages by 2022.
All women and men are paid equally and fairly as per The International Labour Organization (ILO) guildines, which is audited by (GOTS) Global Organic Textile Standard.
2. Empowering Decision Making
Image: Women are promoted to managerial positions and receive equal pay as men.
Women typically have reduced transportation and sales roles and thus limited direct access to profits and high-value functions. Also, poor access to education and womens' well-being services had undermined women farmers and their families in society.
The organic silk farm operation encourages women to take an active role in the community, with the majority higher post position given to women in the company to promote gender equality and respect. Free training for aspiring farmers, weavers and designers are available in the region. Separate toilet facilities are also available for women at each facility.
3. Knowledge Empowerment
Image: Children at local village PPP school near the silk farms
While women may be responsible for most silk production, women have limited access to technical background.
Our give-back initiative supports the silk farm's local village school in the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) model. The children of employees receive a modern quality education at no cost to transform future technology projects and developments.
It's reassuring to learn many women workers now have a comfortable lifestyle, and their children are attending local schools. The women in the group can adapt their new professional skills allowing for social and economic self-dependency. We share this in the hope to empower women to make conscious decisions for what they buy and which brands they invest in and support.