Written by Krystle Corpuz
Globalization has become synonymous with the concept of cheap labor. Competitive fashion markets stay relevant if they can produce their goods cheap and in bulk. However, women in the developing world are bringing globalization to their level and producing clothing and accessories to help them become more sustainable and support an alternative livelihood to trafficking and slave labor.
Many fashion brands have begun to take their impact on the environment into consideration. Fashion enterprises are innovating products for those who seek clothes and accessories that are recyclable and biodegradable. The rare gems out there, however, are fashion enterprises with an interwoven plan of social justice in their overall strategy.
Made by Survivors is a successful fair trade brand that addresses the need to combat trafficking and slavery through economic empowerment. It was founded in 2005 and continues to empower women and youth to become independent and live slavery-free lives. The women who create the handbags, jewelry and gifts are survivors of slavery and human rights abuses. They are considered high-risk individuals for trafficking and are often targeted for their economic vulnerability. The emotional trauma of being a victim and survivor is expressed through their art. The messages in their products denote hope for a better world.
Jewelry centers are established in certain high risk trafficking places to train and employ women in art and handicraft. The jewelry centers not only provide them with an income but also a safe haven to cope with their trauma and find comfort in group support.
100% of the profits go towards rescue and recovery. Thus far, 190 child survivors and children born in brothels were given educational support. In addition, profits help Made by Survivors employment programs by providing start up capital to those who successfully pass entrepreneurship and small business training. Lastly, survivors are given housing.
Made by Survivors currently operates in six countries and has helped more than 1,000 survivors. It has become one of most successful social enterprises of its kind to promote social justice, business, and fair trade. The brand builds upon the foundation that slavery can end if women are given economic means to preserve their dignity and voice. The people who support the product receive beautiful jewelry and a renewed concept of social justice and empowerment of women.