Whether you're on the creative or business side of things, it's a peculiar time to work in the fashion industry. But, there's no better time to stand up for our rights than the present. And everyone from the bottom to the top are using their voices to do something about it. However, mega-retailer H&M is putting its money where its mouth is: As of yesterday, the H&M Foundation donated £2.6 million to the United Nation's Refugee Agency to help fund education for child refugees. After launching the campaign in November of last year, the H&M Foundation made it their mission to get refugee children the school supplies they need. The goal was to find a way to finance the basic necessities of a child's education, ranging from stationary to textbooks. For every H&M holiday gift card sold across approximately 4,000 stores worldwide, the brand donated a portion of the sales to UNHCR. Their efforts will reach children far and wide, including Chad, Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, and Yemen. "Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than other children. This is why providing the supplies they need to go to school is so crucial. With this donation, UNHCR can ensure an education for many children in crisis settings across the world," said Diana Amini, the Foundation's global manager. One in four children in the world are living in conflict, and over half of all refugees are children. 50% percent of them half access to primary school and less than that have the chance to move on to secondary school.
The fashion industry, slowly but surely, is catching on. Most recently, UNICEF partnered with Louis Vuitton to raise awareness of the crisis, and invited members of the fashion community to take part in a Business of Fashion-moderated panel discussion on its work in Lebanon and how they can help. More recently, 22-year old Parsons student Angela Luna designed an entire collection based off of hiking and survival gear that refugees can wear, but also turn into things like sleeping bags and rafts if they need. But there's still a ways to go. Because somehow, in all of the discourse, it'd seem we've lost sight of what's most important. They're innocent children who will all tell you the same thing: They just want to go to school and return to their respective countries to make their communities better. Thankfully, brands like H&M aren't letting borders get in the way of using their resources to help refugees across the globe, not even a temporary ban.
The UNHCR posted a thank-you video to their website that's a must-see. To explore options on how you can join the conversation, head over to the H&M Foundation and UNHCRs' websites for more information.