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April 17, 2020

New virus fund to support producer communities in South Asia

GoodWeave, a non-profit working to end child, forced and bonded labour in global supply chains, has launched the Covid-19 Child and Worker Protection Fund to deliver immediate humanitarian aid and services to vulnerable populations in India, Nepal and Afghanistan.

By Beth Wright

GoodWeave, a non-profit working to end child, forced and bonded labour in global supply chains, has launched the Covid-19 Child and Worker Protection Fund to deliver immediate humanitarian aid and services to vulnerable populations in India, Nepal and Afghanistan.

The focus in on reaching marginalised workers and children in producer communities where GoodWeave field teams are already embedded. The body normally works with these communities to identify, remediate and prevent child labour and other forms of worker exploitation in apparel, textile, carpet, home, and other supply chains. 

Its presence positions the organisation to reach vulnerable workers and children on the ground as factories close and subcontracting work ends as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Many of these workers are migrants who are unable to travel back to their villages because transportation has halted during lockdown periods, GoodWeave says, adding such individuals are already living at the poverty line and now have no source of income, and in many cases, food or shelter.

“We know from past experience that child, forced and bonded labour increases during times of economic hardship,” says Nina Smith, CEO of GoodWeave International. “Our goal now is to protect the hidden workforce at the bottom of the supply chain, and their families, who are so at-risk during this unprecedented crisis.”

GoodWeave, in partnership with its member companies and their suppliers, is prioritising the following activities with donations raised through the Fund:

  • Tracking the health and safety of approximately 120,000 workers and families, and facilitating urgent food aid to migrant workers.
  • Providing supplies and services to Hamro Ghar, GoodWeave’s home for rescued children in Nepal. (Children in centre-based rehabilitation remain in place with staff and visitation is discontinued.)
  • Promoting safety precautions to slow the contagion, and sharing updated information, as many workers are isolated from media and government outreach.
  • Delivering aid when possible, including hygiene kits, as well as monitoring and connecting with government and NGO resources to access medical, salary replacement disbursements and other government provisions.
  • Ensuring the more than 21,000 children in sponsored GoodWeave education programmes continue their studies.
  • Registering thousands of undocumented migrants so they can receive government relief.

GoodWeave International is among the non-profit organisations Fashion Revolution suggests consumers can donate money to in order to help support manufacturers during the pandemic.

Last month, Fashion Revolution, a global movement calling for greater transparency in the fashion industry, urged consumers to demand clothing brands do more to protect workers in their supply chains amid the coronavirus crisis. It outlined “three crucial actions” shoppers can take to support manufacturers, including giving money to non-profit organisations that are providing support to garment makers that have lost their jobs.

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