Women & Banking

My steps to the Dutch VN women’s representative, October 2013


download (2)I experienced romantic years during the Fashion Academy in Amsterdam, but soon they were brutally interrupted by my buying trips in fashion to the Far East. On my first trip my upbringing education for equal rights for men and women was addressed. This was the main reason to work for better working conditions for workers in the garment industry since 1987 . I’ll take you to this into my world. From cotton farmer, to weaver, from clothes to designer, model on the catwalk in clothes wearer… In the fashion industry, the presence of women is enormous. From my own work experiences where I worked mostly with women, I wanted to speak to the UN. Indeed, there is yet to win a world.
Equality of employment status and empowerment of women and men in the textile sector is a challenge. Worldwide there are 47 million people employed in the garment factories of which 40 million, 85% are women. Remarkably, the management positions are usually held by men. MDG3, the Millennium Development Goals, “The promotion of equality between men and women” is very important in this industry. A huge shift in the industry from the West to the South since the 70’s are order of the day. Also, the sector Internationally fragmented and there are long production chains, making transparency  hard to find. In addition, Fashion is  hardly taken seriously by governments. For this reason, it makes the workers in textile highly vulnerable.

The documentary China Blue in 2007 raises public awareness in the West and grows more after the enormous disaster in Bangladesh ( April 24, 2013)  in which 1,300 people died. At government level, there are already made agreements awaiting for application but unfortunately the chain barely made improvements. Research has shown that although awareness has increased, the purchasing behavior of consumers has hardly changed. The crisis will also have to deal with it. Fascinating in Fashion by one in most Western countries, it is for people in developing countries a meaning of survival. In China, young girls are by the family flock to the big unsafe city to sent home money to work in this industry, while the boy can continue to live safely at home. In Bangladesh textile factories in the swampy ground where once graced are mashed rice fields. With all the consequences of such workers as shown. After years of talk and take action on sustainability in fashion, its our female minister Ploumen taken International action in this matter. This has resulted in “THE ACCORD” for Bangladesh, launched in October 2013, an  initiative also supported by ILO, the Clean Clothes Campaign and local unions. Focused on safety and fair wages.
But the problem goes much further. Worldwide, the textile sector is a major negative impact. For people and nature. Illegal discharges of dyes and chemicals, misuse of arable land of food and clean drinking water can not be guaranteed. Because of the low wages, prostitution, sexual abuse and harassment frequently. Money for home should be fast with earned. Clothing Workers of cotton pickers, they are not heard and are not visible enough in this industry. They have no voice or empowerment on their own lives. Waiting for agreements and unions by governments the time is ticking and there is still not much  changed.

As you can hear all the eight Millennium Development Goals are to be applied to this industry.

On one of my trips to Africa in 2009, where I visited the cotton farmers in Mali, I wondered how this could be. Offered the best help from the West I heard harrowing stories of women who picked cotton or grow their own piece of land that had no money to buy new seeds or to purchase uniforms or books for their children. And, if they have the money in their hands, this money does not benefit the children, but its drunked by their husbands. A big problem beeing not independently to  manage their own money or income.
While listening to these stories, I thought back to the 70s, it was common practice in the Netherlands for women to manage their own bank account. To have a bankaccount often it was a first step to get a grip on their lives after the death of their partner or a divorce, but since women continue to work after having children, made a bank account indispensable.
During my visit to cotton farmers in Mali entered into a discussion on “Women Empowerment”.  Together with the woman farmers and the director of Mobiom, It was 3 years ago, we started of opening  bank accounts for 190 cotton womenfarmers. A small project! Despite the opening of an account which costs money ( $10) , there is a positive and sustainable impact;
– Allows them to receive their money faster and safer for the crops of the trader.
– The Fairtrade premium is paid afterwards, can be credited faster.
– Opportunity to get back to receive a credit to buy seeds.
– They can also decide how the money is spent. The money stays in-house and can not be drunk by their partner.
Access to a bank account for us, in the rich West, its so common. The impact of this, we often don’t realize!  But imagine yourself not to have. Our life would be in stnd-by. This considering I came to the conclusion that it does not manage their own money is a reason, which women are subjected to deprivation of their own.
In the past, has been acquired by the UN attention to microcredit and making possible for women to start to generate. Empowering private companies In India and Pakistan are wonderful initiatives launched as “Women Bankings”.

With a view to the annual theme of the UN in 2014, SOIL, and the topic for the International Women’s Day in March 2014 where the theme include “Women and Technology” is, I see a wonderful amalgamation. Mobile telephony is in fact no longer to stay, even in developing countries. A bank account that’ss available via any mobile phone would be a big step for women to build their own living. I plead for making availability and bringing the benefits of bank accounts for women. Attention “Women empowerment” begins with the basic control over her own life. With small steps, big changes! Let’s start!

NB, recent research has shown that 25 million people have no bank account in Europe. This often leads to no home, no job and alcoholism. A private bankaccount is also crucial for all of us.