International Womens Day
We all know, there is a movement toward conscious consumerism, which could - quite literally - change the world. We have reached a point in time where customers and businesses need to work together to elevate to the level the world needs, ask the hard questions, get answers and know the processes of what you buy from end-to-end.
What an honour to have spoken with Grace Forrest, our very own young Australian and founding director of Walk Free, an international human rights organisation working to eradicate modern slavery, affecting over 40 million people globally. Grace is in constant demand and has been recognised as WA Young Australian of the Year, she’s spoken at the United Nations, been featured in Vogue and recently appointed United Nations Association of Australia’s youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador, for Anti-Slavery.
She’s making waves and changing the world for the greater good of humanity. Her intentions are very real, she’s completely transparent about modern issues and helping shape our growth mindset for a better future - for all. She’s given us her insight and advice to live better and in turn - help someone else live better too.
In one sentence, what is it like to be Grace Forrest - the youngest woman in Australia making positive change?
There are so many young people - men and women - making positive changes in Australia and around the world. I have been passionate about tackling modern slavery for more than a decade. I want to give them a voice and ensure they are believed, heard, and empowered. Sometimes that means being on the ground myself to provide evidence and give a voice to those who have been systemically silenced. Other times it means lobbying and convincing the powerful to help make sustainable change so we can end modern slavery in our lifetime.
What quality unifies us and allows us to make a change for women worldwide?
Sometimes, it's the scale and difficulty of a challenge that can unite us. There are more people living in slavery today than at any other time in human history. Women are disproportionately affected by every single form of slavery, 1 in every 130 females globally is living in modern slavery. In fact, women and girls account for nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of all victims of modern slavery. Although modern slavery affects everyone, there is no escaping that females are disproportionately affected. At its core, International Women’s Day should be about women for women. We must promote and rights of all women and all people that are systematically held back, to say we progress together or not at all.
You're a renowned game changer what is the cause closest to your heart?
There are so many injustices in the world, but I have made it my mission - and the mission of my team at Walk Free - to eliminate modern slavery in our lifetime. Slavery exists in the world today because we allow it to. It is totally in our power to end it. I know that might seem hard to digest, but it’s true. As citizens, as voters and as consumers we contribute every day to the kind of world we want our children to inherit. We can make choices that have positive impacts, or negative ones. It's our call.
What is one question we could ask ourselves before making a purchase decision, what would it be?
Do I really need it? The most sustainable items are those we already have and own.
Where did it come from? As a consumer, is it easy to find out where this item was produced and if not, why not?
Was anyone exploited in the making of this item? Was this ethically made, how robustly scrutinised by the end retailer is the supply chain?
As consumers, we have a responsibility to push brands to do better. It is up to each of us to be informed and responsible for our human footprint. This can be as simple as choosing fair-trade coffee or learning about the human rights rating of your favourite brands. Modern slavery is a first-world problem. It’s an issue that we’re all exposed too and potentially contribute to every day. Through the clothes on our back, the coffee we drink in the morning, or the device you’re reading this on. Modern slavery touches every country and every industry. The fashion industry is particularly high risk because of the lack of transparency in global supply chains, and the rising demand for ‘fast fashion’. Sadly, it is commonplace for us to hear about well-known retailers with factories where adults and children are exploited. The 2018 Global Slavery Index puts fashion as one of the top five most vulnerable industries to modern slavery. With fashion supply chains more at risk from highly exploitative work conditions than almost any other industry.
How, as women can we support one another on a daily basis?
Knowledge is power! Most of us have been tricked into thinking that it’s normal not to know who made our clothes. However, it’s in these intricate global supply chains, that exploitation happens. No one wants to buy things that caused another human being harm. Research the businesses you buy from and ask them how they are working to ensure their supply chains are cruelty and slavery-free.
On a personal note, I think we need to realise that we all have the power to create change. And we need to support that individual power in each other to ensure we all have a voice. We can express that voice in our communities, on our social channels, and as voter and consumers to drive change for those who don't have a voice.
We are determined to be better beauty. After our time with Grace, we find ourselves even more inspired to bring greater transparency in our manufacturing processes, we have great relationships with our manufacturers and we will continue to ask the questions, get certifications and put working conditions as a priority - we are all a part of the bigger picture. In saying this, we are pleased to have commenced our journey of becoming B-Corp certified, which means our business, from end-to-end treads lightly and has a higher purpose for the greater good.
After all, every dollar you spend is a vote for the world you want to live in. Let’s continue to choose well and look after one another.