When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world two years ago, the global fashion industry crumpled. Faced with collapsing demand, brands canceled orders worth billions of dollars and factories across Africa and Asia went belly up. Few felt the effects as harshly as the tens of millions of workers, most of them women, who stitched the world’s clothes.
Vekile Sesha stood outside the rusted gates of a garment factory in the industrial district of Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, willing her luck to change. Four months earlier, the blue jeans factory where she worked nearby abruptly shut, blaming plummeting demand from the Western brands it supplied amid the pandemic, AP reports.
She had loved the job fiercely: “I was talented, and I was doing something that was needed by the world.” Her monthly paycheck of 2,400 loti (about $150) supported a constellation of family members in her rural village. “Because of me, they never slept on an empty stomach,” she said.
Every day since, Sesha, 32, has been fighting to get that life back. On this morning, with a furious sun overhead, she joined a line of about 100 job-seekers outside the blue aluminum shell of a factory that supplies pants and athletic shirts to American chain stores.
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