Worldwide rates of female incarceration are higher than ever. Marginalized 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 recognized amongst the international community and labor organizations 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.We create a safe environment where the woman can gain new skills, earn fair wages, and provide for their families. Our employees share their knowledge and craftsmanship with us.
Working inside of prisons does not address the root causes of why they were incarcerated in the first place, but we hope to be able to create opportunities for a better life for them and their families while they are incarcerated and when released.
how we work in prisons
We have set up and manage two workspaces inside of women’s prisons. One in Cusco, Peru and one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We manage our own operations inside the prisons and have a local production manager in each country who oversee production and ensure a safe environment for learning and making quality designs. Our Copenhagen based team visits two to three times per year.
We only work in prisons, where we are able to secure that fair and voluntary employment is possible and we pay the wages directly. It is crucial to us to contribute to a responsible work culture where our employees feel safe to speak out, make mistakes and learn.
In Peru, we have created the NGO ‘Asociacion Made In Prison Peru’ in which every woman is employed. The day to day responsibility lies with our production manager Surya Miranda. She goes to prison every day to be with our team and does training and development, ensures quality control and heads payments.
Our first employees have now been with us for more than two years and now we have 15 women on our team. The working hours are 5 hours per day, five days per week. As there is no internet or cell phones in prison, we speak through Surya who communicates between our team and us 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 of the processes. Currently, we have ten employees who have been with us since we opened last year. The working time is 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.
The fashion industry is a global industry that employs up to 75 million people. About three quarters of garment workers are female. Many garment workers work in the “informal economy” meaning they are not protected under legal and regulatory frameworks and are therefore extremely vulnerable. Most workers make 60 hours a week and earn 0.95 cents per hour. In addition, most workers are paid per hour rather than monthly meaning their income fluctuates. We believe that all garment workers should earn a stable and fair income both inside prison and outside prison. Rather than outsourcing our productions, we have therefore established our own, so we can ensure that each person is compensated fairly.
We believe all workers, incarcerated or not, deserve a living wage for their work. We have chosen to work specifically with incarcerated women because we know that a good job with fair pay and proper training can create the opportunity for a better life for both workers and their families—many of whom were imprisoned specifically for poverty-related crime. The wages we pay are benchmarked with the International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines, and triangulated with local organisations. We focus on offering a living wage as a minimum in the respective country. If general changes apply to the labour market we are ready to adjust our wages accordingly