Worldwide rates of female incarceration are higher than ever. Marginalised single mothers are most at risk because of systematic gender, class and racial inequalities. In prison, there are few opportunities for women to learn and develop new skills, work creatively and earn a decent income for their work.
It is widely recognised amongst the international community and labour organisations that access to good jobs and skills development in prison are driving factors to improving mental health and to securing reintegration into society.
Working within the prison system is complex, but we believe that creating new and fair standards for work as rehabilitation can have a tremendous impact for incarcerated women.
As of today, we have not found a best practice example for ethical employment within prisons. We want to change that, and have developed our own model to make sure that workers’ rights are implemented and standardised. Employment within prisons should be fair and equal to employment outside of prisons.
how we work in prisons
Setting up our own production facilities within prisons, and managing these ourselves enables us to make sure that the labour rights and wages are assimilated to best practices within production sites outside of prisons. We have appointed our own production managers in our two production facilities, in Cusco, Peru, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. They are on site every day, managing everything from recruitment, training, working hours and payment to ensure that our standards are maintained and developed. Our Copenhagen based team also visits on a regular basis. We see our workspaces in Thailand and Peru as an extension of our company in Denmark, and we treat everyone as our employees.
Most of the design process takes place together with our teams inside of the prison. And it’s important to us that everyone learns all different techniques from stitching to pattern making. Our teams are exceptionally talented and committed and function more and more as the design development studio.
We also have courses in other areas of expertise in order to develop new skills that are useful for life after prison. So far, we have carried out courses in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, english, jewellery making and business plan development.
In Peru, we have created the NGO ‘Association Made In Prison Peru’ in which every woman is employed. The day to day responsibility lies with our production manager Surya Miranda. She is on site every day with our team and carries out training and development, ensures quality control and manages payments.
We currently have 15 women on our team, some of whom have been working with us for more than two years. The working hours are 5 hours per day, five days per week. As there is no internet or cell phones in prison, we communicate through Surya, who oversees the dialog between our production team and our headquarters on a daily basis.
Chiang Mai Women’s correctional Institution, Thailand.
In Thailand, we have a partnership with the Ministry of Justice, The Department of Corrections, Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution and the NGO ‘Kamlanjai Project’ under HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, who is UNODC Goodwill ambassador for South East Asia.
This partnership allows us to pioneer a new model for employment inside of the prison.
Thanakon is our local production manager and he runs the production on a daily basis. He coordinates the production, he buys additional materials and makes sure the team is involved in all processes. Currently, we have ten employees who have been with us since our opening last year. They work 6 hours per day, five days per week.
We are in contact with Thanakon everyday to stay updated on every step and with everyone from our team.