Everything changes in the blink of an eye when there is an accident at the mines.
Wages are low for Maria Rosa’s mom. Layoffs are a constant threat. Conditions are terrible and the hours are long. Even still, ends are not meeting. In an effort to keep food on the table, Maria Rosa brings her younger sisters into town and sets up on a corner selling juice and cigarettes to businessmen. At night her mom is teaching her to sew in hopes that she’ll be able to get a job with the factory soon.
It sounds like #povertyporn, right? It sounds too sad to be true. Isn’t there some sort of safety net? Isn’t there another option than an 11 year old dropping out of school?
For millions around the world there are no other options. And the saddest part about it is that we are guilty of supporting the industries that perpetuate this gruesome cycle. Every time you buy into fast fashion you’re telling these companies, “My $7 t-shirt is more important than paying a woman a living wage to support her family.”
Bolivia, one of the most isolated countries in Latin America, has a troubled history with working conditions, child labor and minimum wages.
10 sad facts about Bolivia we want to change:
- The minimum wage is $250USD/month, though this is regularly ignored, especially for children.
- Despite Bolivia being subject to the UN’s International Labour Organization’s Minimum Age Convention, it is legal to work from age 10.
- Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, ranking 108 out of 186 countries on the UN Human Development Index of 2013 .
- 64% of the population in Bolivia lives below the poverty line, unable to meet basic needs for their families: food, health- care, clothing and shelter.
- Many Bolivians, especially in rural areas, live on less than US$2 a day.
- 41% of rural households still cannot afford basic groceries for their family.
- The U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2013 that more than 20 percent of Bolivians ages 7 to 14 worked. Shockingly, actual figures are thought to be nearly three times higher.
- An estimated 20% of Bolivia’s population is malnourished.
- Bolivia’s per capital income is $2,800/year, compared to $8,200/year for other Latin American countries.
- Threatening the Bolivian garment industry, China is undercutting already cheap raw material costs and cheap labor costs resulting in either layoffs or even lower wages for the same amount of work
VIRTŪ is committed to transparency. Not only do you know exactly who made your clothes, but you can be sure that workers are paid a fair, living wage. Furthermore, workers who produce VIRTU garments are encouraged to work from home or in their free time so they can put their families first. With 50% of profits going straight back to local communities for training and development opportunities, workers making VIRTŪ garments have ample opportunities for advancement and expanded earning capabilities.