Beyoncés ‘Female Empowerment’ Brand Paying Sweatshop Workers Half Average Wage
“Championing the collective strength of women all over the world”
Beyoncé, a self-described feminist and one of the world’s most successful performers, has come under fire after it was rediscovered by many fans that the multi-millionaire’s ‘female empowerment’ label ‘Ivy Park’ employs impoverished labour in sweatshop-like conditions.
The brand, touted by feminist blogs as “championing the collective strength of women all over the world”, first came under scrutiny in 2016 when a report by The Sun revealed the very un-empowering conditions many women producing the clothing work in. Many of the garments are made by impoverished Sri Lankan women from remote rural areas making only £4.30 a day across 60-hour weeks. One sewing machine operator told The Sun she cannot survive on her £87 a month wage, just over half the Sri Lankan average.
The issue has been unearthed in recent days with many Twitter users calling out the multi-millionaire:
Soon after The Sun’s report, the brand denied the allegations and defended itself in a statement; “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.”
One machinist told The Sun: “When they talk about women and
empowerment this is just for the foreigners. They want the foreigners to
think everything is OK.”
“This is the norm and the same applies for all the big global brands,” said Anna McMullen, the policy director at Labour Behind the Label, a group fighting for workers rights, when The Sun’s report made headlines in 2016.
“It takes a superstar name like Beyoncé to make people say ‘oh, this is horrible’, but this is the reality that’s happening every day, every week, every month, for all the big brands,” she added. The Guardian was similarly ready to dispense with all guilt for their feminist darling, citing the use of sweatshop labour as an industry standard (it isn’t).
True, all clothing labels exploit the economies of scale provided by global capitalism, but not all are run by hundred-millionaire household names virtue signalling across the world about how she is mythologically empowering all women by letting them make her rich working in her factories and buying her products. Beyoncé is the very definition of a Champagne Socialist.
As fellow feminists over at The Huffington Post point out, all the superstar would need to do to absolve her brand of this scandal and prove her commitment to female empowerment is put her money where her mouth is and switch suppliers.
Beyoncé ranks 53 on Forbes’ 2018 List of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.
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