The Use of Role-Play in Challenging Conventional Gender Roles

The second largest employer of women in India is the garment sector. Typically, women working in the garment factories are from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, have poor literacy levels and come from extremely patriarchal families, where domestic violence is not uncommon.

Unfortunately, gender based-violence and sexual harassment often extends to their workplace. While the garment sector provides first time employment and an important source of income to these women, this situation is holding the industry back from being the force for good that it can be.

Our partner Breakthrough is working to tackle this problem. Their efforts include community mobilization and factory level events to educate and inform women about sexual intimidation and how to fight it.

During an event hosted inside a garment factory, Breakthrough used a role-playing game to make workers question conventional gender roles imposed by society. While, men baked bread and braid hair, women used hammer and nails. Although both the men and women performed the assigned tasks well, the women were more active in their participation, while the men were hesitant to admit in front of others that they had already performed these tasks at home.

Community events, like the one held at the garment factor are incredibly important in the fight to end gender-based violence.  As issues of gender inequality are so deeply intrenched within culture, it requires organisations like Breakthrough to reach out to workers both in and beyond their workplace to help them imagine a world with gender equity.

The work of our partner Breakthrough reminds us of the incredible resilience of the people working in the garment industry. At C&A Foundation, we remain committed to working together with partners like Breakthrough to make fashion a force for good.

Photographer Sharmistha Dutta, commissioned by C&A Foundation, sheds light on forced and child labour, as well as women’s inequality within the fashion industry in India. Here she shares with us the incredible personal stories of love, struggle and hope for the future from the individuals she has encountered.

Faridabad, India