The power of fashion in development
Women’s economic empowerment and fashion took centre stage at the United Nations’ New York headquarters on 22 September during a luncheon hosted and chaired by Arancha González, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The Women Empowering Women event was an opportunity to showcase the work of participants attached to ITC’s Women and Trade Programme. Women designers from Ethiopia, India, Mongolia, Palestine, Papua New Guinea and Peru collaborated with London College of Design and Parson The New School of Design to prepare their collections.
More than 250 people attended a gathering co-chaired by Gina Casar, Associated Administrator of UNDP, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Other prominent guests included Cherie Blair, the spouse of former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ban Soon-taek, wife of UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, and supermodel Cameron Russell, a leading supporter of ITC’s women-empowerment initiatives.
Building skills and knowledge
During her welcome speech, Ms. González pointed out that many people may underestimate the sector’s economic impact. ‘Fashion’s potential to create jobs along the value chain, add value to raw materials, develop ingenuity and bridge geographical boundaries are limitless,’ she said. For example, the women designers represented at the luncheon employ more than 1,500 workers at various locations around the world.
Ms. González added that while ideas and the capacity to bring them to fruition exist among talented entrepreneurs in developing countries, there is a need to bring them closer to the market. ‘It is about building their skills and knowledge to understand the industry, leverage opportunities, expand their customer base, and through success, generate more jobs and revenue in their home country,’ she said.