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The Better Cotton and Search For Justice partnership is supported by the Better Cotton Growth & Innovation Fund’s (GIF) Knowledge Partner fund and aims to support Better Cotton and its partner Rural Education & Economic Development Society (REEDS) on child labour prevention initiatives in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab.

The partnership will involve an 18-month project, primarily focused on enhancing the capabilities of 195 field personnel.

The project aims to deepen understanding from farm level, distinguishing between age-appropriate child involvement and exploitative child labour. Additionally, the partnership will provide mentorship and guidance to field staff, equipping them to identify, monitor, and take remedial actions against child labour. This includes heightened awareness of pertinent legal and institutional frameworks.

Kamran Kashif, capacity building manager at Better Cotton, underlines the magnitude of the challenge, affirming that tackling child labour necessitates a holistic approach that addresses its multifaceted underlying causes. He added: “This is why Better Cotton considers it fundamental to collaborate with relevant partners to make progress, especially considering the magnitude of the challenge in cotton, and the agricultural sector more generally.”

Reinforcing this initiative, Better Cotton explains the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (2021-22) labour force survey brought to light that over 1.2 million children, aged 10-14, are engaged in labour across various sectors in Pakistan and the agricultural sector harbours 56% of these young labourers.

The National Rural Support Program’s (NRSP) 2012 suggested up to 10 million child workers spanning various age groups are engaged in child labour.

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Furthermore, the NRSP’S 2012 assessment of child labour in Rahim Yar Khan and surrounding Punjab districts revealed that 385,000 children were involved in labour, with a notable 26% contributing to cotton farming activities.

Better Cotton and Search For Justice also want to consult with public sector stakeholders in Punjab to support advocacy endeavours related not only to child labour but also to the broader concept of dignified work.

This proactive stance aligns with Target 8.7 of Goal 8, which calls for the complete elimination of child labour in all its manifestations by 2025, set by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Better Cotton and its collaborators explained they are: “committed to supporting global efforts, taking significant measures to prevent, identify and remediate child labour in cotton farming contexts.”

At the begnning of this month, Better Cotton updated its Claims Framework to give its members improved usability.

In July, Btter Cotton embraced the EU’s proposed Green Claims Directive but emphasised the need for clear guidelines to standardise industry practices and eradicate greenwashing.