Reviving the Call to Action of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
About the Author: Barbara Shailor serves as Special Representative for International Labor Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Promotion of fundamental labor rights and safe workplaces is a core U.S. value.
Over one hundred years ago, on this day, a fire started at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan. The fire swept through the top floors, too high for ladders to reach. Hundreds of workers, mostly immigrant women and girls threw themselves off window ledges onto the streets below. One hundred and forty-six workers were burned or crushed to death.
The Triangle Fire galvanized hundreds of activists to push for fundamental reforms in the workplace. Frances Perkins, who stood helpless watching the fire, became an even more fearless advocate for workers’ rights. She later became secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Today, hundreds of organizations commemorate the Triangle Fire by redoubling efforts to reform laws to protect the safety of working… more »
Decent Work for Informal Sector Workers
About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and Barbara Shailor serves as the Special Representative for International Labor Affairs at the Department of State.
On May 14, a group of experts from academia, labor, and NGOs joined us for a vibrant discussion on the role of women in the global economy. The conclusion was clear; we must continue to advocate for decent work for working women around the world — especially for women in the informal sector.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton commented on this in 2010 at the United Nations in New York: “I remember once driving through Africa with a group of distinguished experts. And I saw women working in the fields and I saw women working in the markets and I saw women with wood on their heads and water on their heads and children on their backs. And I remarked that women just seem to… more »