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Fashion’s Most Powerful Players Come Together To End Violence Against Women

© Kering Foundation

Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga...

A study published by the UN recently revealed the most dangerous place for women is at home. That is how starkly common domestic violence is. With the support of NGOs around the world, one of the biggest power players in the fashion industry is attempting to combat it.

At an event in Paris, the umbrella company that owns shares in Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta fought to bring visibility to an issue that affects 1 in 3 women. Kering Foundation, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is spearheading initiatives against domestic violence as well as cyberstalking, mental health and toxic gender narratives.

‘We will continue the fight,’ an impassioned François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering, said in his speech, ‘I want the Kering Foundation to explore new fields of action. Prevention, for example, by raising awareness among men about violence against women. I also keep in mind the fate of the children, who are often direct or indirect victims of this violence.’ He added that the decade before has left him with ‘pride for what we have done thus far, and determination for the future.’

With 60 per cent of Kering’s employees and 80 per cent of its customers female, Pinault and the Kering Group are aware of how crucial their mission is. ‘When the Kering Foundation started 10 years ago, violence against women was such a taboo and it was quite a bold stand for a company to decide to focus its combat on this cause,’ explains Céline Bonnaire, the Foundation’s executive director. But, then #metoo happened and the conversation around violence against women shifted.

‘The silence about sexual violence has been broken, across borders, across social classes, across industries. It has built on the work that women’s organizations and movements have been doing for many years,’ Bonnaire says. ‘But sexism still exists and I am afraid it will take more than a movement to stop it.’

With the support of specialised NGOs Solidarité Femmes in France, D.i.Re in Italy, Women’s Aid in the UK and NNEDV in the US – the Foundation is pioneering a new training program for their staff on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace. Over 1200 people have attended, so far.

To move the conversation forward, the Foundation is now widening its scope to include men in the conversation. Challenging cyberbullying with a campaign called I Don’t Speak Hate was the first step but now they've launched their latest social mission, #ICouldHaveBeen. As Bonnaire says, ‘the Kering Foundation will support [a range of] programs that challenge harmful belief systems and in particular, the question of masculinity, working with youth, both boys and girls.