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Cambodian labor organizer and delegate to U.N. Conference on the Status of Women to speak at Appalachian March 30

By Dr. Gregory Reck

BOONE, N.C.—Sophorn Yang, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) and a delegate to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women, will speak at Appalachian State University on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. The presentation will be in the Gordon Gathering Hall, Room 124, in the Reich College of Education building. The event is free and open to the public.

View larger imageSophorn Yang, prominent union activist and a delegate to the UN Conference on the Status of Women, will speak at Appalachian on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Yang began working in a garment factory in Cambodia when she was a teenager. By the time she was 30 years old, she was president of the 10,000-member CATU. As a worker and labor organizer, she has first-hand knowledge of the global garment industry and the health, safety and human rights abuses of the “fast fashion” industry. After a 2014 garment workers strike was brutally put down by Cambodian security forces, resulting in five worker deaths, more than 40 injuries and 23 imprisonments, she has been under a court supervision order that restricts her rights to free speech and free association in her country.

Yang will speak about sweatshop labor, trends in the global garment market, the fight for better working conditions, and how consumer awareness can aid the labor struggle in the global economy.

Her work for the labor rights of women has been recognized internationally by her appointment as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women. She has spoken at conferences and universities in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Her remarks will be followed by a question and answer period and an interactive session that examines where and under what conditions the clothes we wear are made.

The event is sponsored by Appalachian’s student club of United Students Against Sweatshops, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Sustainable Development, the Office of International Education and Development, the Office of Sustainability, and the Office of the Quality Enhancement Plan. For more information, contact Dr. Gregory Reck in the Department of Anthropology at 262-6383 or email

About the Department of Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology offers a comparative and holistic approach to the study of the human experience. The anthropological perspective provides a broad understanding of the origins as well as the meaning of physical and cultural diversity in the world – past, present and future. The department offers numerous research opportunities for students including field schools, internships, lab projects and independent studies at home and abroad. Students may earn B.A. and B.S. degrees with concentrations in sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and social practice and sustainability.

About Sustainability at Appalachian

Appalachian State University’s leadership in sustainability is known nationally. The university’s holistic, three-branched approach considers sustainability economically, environmentally and equitably in relationship to the planet’s co-inhabitants. The university is an active steward of the state’s interconnected financial, cultural and natural resources and challenges students and others think critically and creatively about sustainability and what it means from the smallest individual action to the most broad-based applications. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs that focus on sustainability. In addition, 100 percent of Appalachian’s academic departments offer at least one sustainability course or course that includes sustainability, and all students graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome.

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.