Interview with Aazir Munir about feminism and the garment industry

Aazir Munir is a web developer. He has worked with universities and tech companies. He graduated from the University of Waterloo in general science (minors in Physics and English) and has a certificate in Advanced Web Development. He writes for Trusted Clothes. He leads the development of the Trusted Clothes website. Here is his story relating to ethical and sustainable fashion.

Tell us about your story – education, prior work, and so on?

I am a web developer by trade and have previously worked in various positions such as in research environments at universities and at a tech company. I graduated from the University of Waterloo recently with a degree in general science with minors in Physics and English, as well as with a certificate in advanced web design and development. I love to write in my free time and am passionate about volunteering and creating social change.

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

I got this interested in this topic through Trusted Clothes. I maintain the TC blog site and am also working on developing a major upgrade to the main site. Through doing this I also read many articles on the site and realized the importance of the issue. I decided to get my voice out there by writing my own articles and the rest is, as they say, history

What seems like the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?

Ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies are very important because through their efforts and work, we will one day change the garment industry and get millions of women and children out of abusive situations. As ethical companies become more popular and common, one day, major retailers will have to choose between going out of business or switching to a more ethical production cycle.

The Ethical Fashion Forum developed the Ethical Policy Framework. An ethical policy framework tool for those devoted to enactment of ethical and sustainable purchases, production, and business decisions. What do services such as these perform for the public, consumers, producers, and businesspeople?

Services such as this help the average consumer determine if their product was actually ethically made. It is hard to look at the history of every product but if there is a general framework to follow it makes it much more straightforward. Consumers can specifically look for companies which follow this framework and business people can market the fact that they follow it as well.

There have been large tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse, which was the largest garment factory accident in history with over 1,000 dead and more than 2,500 injured. Others were the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911) and the Pakistan Garment Factory Fires (2012). How do tragedies shed light on work conditions in garment factories?

Tragedies like these help shed light onto the work conditions in many factories because, other than these events, the larger world is often unaware of how horrific the conditions are for these people. Events like this, though undoubtedly tragic, do raise awareness of these issues as they get substantial media attention.

The development of capacities and freedoms for women are restricted through violation of fundamental rights. GII has three parts: economic status, empowerment, and reproductive health. Empowerment is measured by proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by women, and the proportion of adult women and men (age 25 and older) with some secondary education. Economic status is measured by the labor force participation rate of women and men aged 15 and older. Reproductive health is measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birthrates. If women had access and implementation of these fundamental human rights, would their livelihood and quality of life, even working life in the garment factories, improve?

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if women had those fundamental human rights then their personal and working lives would be better. Not only would this improve their lives but it would improve the lives of everybody around them. Empowering women is something which benefits all of us. It is horrible how much discrimination women face on an everyday basis. My interest in the garment industry is largely motivated by interest in women’s rights. It astounds me how so many people in the world seem to think it is acceptable to deny women their basic human rights.

Any women’s rights activist or campaigner hero for you?

The women’s right activist who inspires me the most is undoubtedly my girlfriend, Kiera Dubé. She is very passionate about women’s rights and has taught me a lot about modern feminist issues. Women face explicit and implicit discrimination and while many people are aware of the explicit issues, the implicit issues – which are sometimes more important, are often swept under the rug. Kiera always brings these issues to light for me and helps me to be a more knowledgeable feminist.

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

This work is personally fulfilling for me because I know that what I am doing makes a difference. We may not have the largest readership on the web but we are growing every day and changing hearts and minds on the way!

Any other work at this time?

I am currently working as a programming coach for kids in schools as well as working as a freelance web developer. I am currently looking for more clients. So if you are looking to get a website built please contact me!

Any recommended means of contacting, even becoming involved with, you?

You can contact me through LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/aazirmunir) and through my site (AazirMunir.com). You can also read my articles at https://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/writer/aazir/

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

I hope that anybody who reads this and who is interested in women’s rights or sustainable fashion will go out and stand up for what they believe in. Whether that means volunteering at an organization like Trusted Clothes or going to protests or participating in politics. It’s only by ACTING today that we can change the world of tomorrow.

Thank you for your time, Aazir.

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