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Women’s Day: Time for atonement, not celebration

...Oxfam estimates 27 million people are employed globally in around 2,000 Export Processing Zones, with women representing at least 50%, and in some places up to 90%, of employees. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), labour conditions in these factories are often substandard, employees being denied their rights to association and collective bargaining...

While the companies operating Export Processing Zones in Central America, locally known as 'maquilas', are foreign, the majority of 'maquiladores' are local women. For most of them, gender-based discrimination is a daily struggle at work...

In Romania and Bulgaria, women produce goods for luxury EU brands for wages far below the line of decency, in terrible working conditions...

In all of these places, any and all initiatives to associate and demand better working conditions, decent pay and the basic respect of employees' human rights is met with swift (and at times violent) reprisals by management...

Business and human rights are fields where much more needs to change to make 8 March a day of celebration and not one of atonement...

Corporations should first right their wrongs before the women's day parade begins. Paying poverty wages, closing their eyes to what happens in their supply chains and ignoring the rights of indigenous communities is neither responsible nor sustainable...

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