A digital initiative bringing to life real stories about real people in the Bangladeshi garment industry is proving a game-changer in the country in its first year of launch.
“Made in Equality” is a website and Facebook page illustrating garment workers’ life experiences in their own words. The simple format of an individual’s image, presented alongside their quotes, is proving moving and powerful.
“The victimisation of garment workers is frequently portrayed in the media. While the industry does have challenges to address, RMG workers are truly amazing people with incredible resilience and their stories have been lost in the rubble of the tragedies in Bangladesh,” said Naureen Chowdhury, Programme Manager, Supply Chain Innovation & Transformation at C&A Foundation, which works to improve conditions for workers in the apparel industry and is supporting the project.
“This initiative puts the workers centre stage in a light that they have not been shown in before. It is generating public advocacy and greater consideration by consumers of their role in the garment industry.”
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Made in Equality (MiE) was targeted at people living in Bangladesh but has ‘exploded,’ Chowdhury says, transcending country boundaries.
The social reach is impressive:
- MiE received 4.5 million reactions on Facebook from 11 million Bangladeshis (42 percent of Facebook users in Bangladesh)
- It received 38 million impressions and was shared globally
- The Facebook page gained 82,000+ followers in one year
- 31 percent of interactions came from female users and 69 percent from male users.
The power of storytelling
“We’ve had comments from migrant workers who are working away from Bangladesh saying that they love these stories, so it’s having the result we wanted and creating a movement for a call to action.”
Chowdhury says what makes her proud is that people want to know more about the workers in this industry.
“The art of storytelling hasn’t died,” she asserted. “Social media has demonstrated its power and although it is early days, this is a game-changer and equaliser that forges a direct link into the realities of workers whose lives might be very different from ours. However, our values, hopes and aspirations are not that different.”
Jill Tucker, Head of Supply Chain Innovation & Transformation at C&A Foundation, added: “MiE makes me step into another person’s shoes for a moment. It’s not always a comfortable place to stand, but I feel fortunate to get a peek into their lives, loves and losses.”
"In our work, numerous reactions poured into our inbox with only one message: I want to help!” said WebAble’s Monoshita Ayruani. “The overwhelming response left us in awe. When we approached our subjects, we were delighted that they were more welcoming to strangers than we had expected them to be and are curious to know what we do with their stories. By developing Made in Equality, our biggest realisation was that RMG workers need equity, not just equality."
Where does the project go next?
The project’s next phase has 75 new stories, plus video campaigns, among other activities. Noteworthy will be the 10 reaction videos on the ‘most liked’ and ‘most shared’ stories which will also be shared with the people who have so far told their stories.
“We’re keen to go back and give these people feedback; they have said that in the past, they were asked to tell their stories, which they gave freely, but they didn’t receive any more information about what happened next,” Chowdhury said.
“Made in Equality’s reach has far exceeded our original ambitions,” added Maeve Galvin, C&A Foundation’s Programme Manager of Supply Chain Innovation & Transformation. “Its success is evidence that people care about, and are curious about, the person who made their clothes. Our next challenge is to explore how this interest can translate into impact.”