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Industry Snapshot: Human Rights In Global Fashion

October 11, 2019 at 1:05AM
Industry Snapshot: Human Rights In Global Fashion

In recent years, the rise of fast fashion and media coverage of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1000 workers have propelled public debates around the exploitative working conditions in the fashion industry and the search for a more ethical business model. 

Highlighting the atrocities of factory workers within the garment industry, building brands and movements to educate and empower human trafficking victims, and designing labels that encourage the use of sustainable products and practices all elevate the awareness of human rights in global fashion. We’re now seeing an expansion of fashion organizations dedicated to making a real, ethical difference and ultimately boost retail economy

Ready to join them? Read on to find out how you can help make a difference in the fashion industry. 


With a focus on human rights and environmental sustainability, you can lead the way and find meaning in various related careers within this field, including: 

  • Human rights/labor rights research and advocacy

  • Corporate human rights/sustainability or compliance officer

  • Program officers in the international development field

  • Labor compliance in government

  • Fashion entrepreneur or brand manager

  • Program/research/advisor positions in NGOs

  • Corporate social responsibility and community relations

  • Labor organizer

  • Corporate/legal counsel in fashion production/manufacturing 


Our new online, 4-course certificate program in Human Rights & Global Fashion offers a firm grounding in the fundamentals of the human rights aspects of ethical fashion – the main problems and their root causes, corporate responsibility standards, and the range of responses adopted by stakeholders, including their limitations and potential. The certificate focuses on international human rights norms and principles, certification and monitoring schemes, labor mobilization, and proposals to tackle the key issues with creative solutions.

Who Should Enroll:

  • Anyone with an interest in knowing more about human rights abuses in the global fashion industry, the root causes of human rights violations and what can be done about them, what is being tried, what works, and what doesn’t

  • Professionals in the fashion industry who want to be more effective in addressing human rights, or professionals in the human rights field who want more specialized knowledge of the issues in the fashion industry

  • Representatives in the development field who want to specialize in human rights of garment workers and other aspects of the fashion industry

  • Professionals in human rights organizations who want to specialize in the rights of workers in the global fashion industry

Courses To Take:

  • Human Rights in the Global Fashion Industry (launching Spring 2020) 

  • Corporate Responsibility Standards and Fair Labor Practices (launching Spring 2020)

  • Human Rights on the Factory Floor  (launching Summer 2020)

  • Innovations in Supply Chain Management (launching Fall 2020)

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to apply the international human rights framework in the fashion industry

  • How to analyze the supply chain through the lens of the international human rights framework

  • Why the global economic system drives wage inequalities in the supply chain

  • How to assess the role of governments, companies, NGOs, unions, and labor organizations in preventing and redressing human rights abuses

  • Different approaches to monitoring labor conditions on the factory floor using international human rights standards

  • How to critically assess “ethical fashion” labels – are they marketing gimmicks or serious corporate efforts?

  • How to think out of the box to find creative solutions to persistent problems

Faculty Highlights:

  • Sakiko Fukuda-Parr is the program’s coordinator. Her teaching and research have focused on human rights and development, global health, and global goal setting and governance by indicators. From 1995 to 2004, she was lead author and director of the UNDP Human Development Reports. Fukuda-Parr contributes actively to international policy and research processes. She also directs the Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health at the University of Oslo, and serves as Distinguished Fellow at the JICA Research Institute, Tokyo. Learn More 

Image credit: Amy Anstatt


Discover more about Human Rights & Global Fashion.

Written by Casey O'Connell for Open Campus.

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