UNICEF this week launched a new initiative, “Children’s Rights and the Garment Industry in Bangladesh,” in conjunction with leaders in the readymade garment (RMG) sector.
Launched in the city of Dhaka, the initiative is working with garment manufacturers “that want to go that extra mile” to support the rights of children, working parents and young workers.
UNICEF says the initiative’s objective is to create awareness of the impact the garment industry has on the rights of children and working parents in Bangladesh, and to engage businesses, government, civil society and NGO’s on these issues.
The initiative’s opening session was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), UNICEF, and the working women’s organization Karmojibi Nari.
“BGMEA is committed to ensuring safety, dignity and well-being of the readymade garment workers,” said Mohammed Nasir, vice president of finance for BGMEA. “The trade association would welcome any positive endeavor of UNICEF for the industry.”
At the launch, UNICEF urged collaborative action across the industry to harness the power of the RMG sector to become a force for good for workers and their families and help create a sustainable supply chain industry. Promoting an understanding of children as key stakeholders, UNICEF said, was an essential element to embedding long-term sustainable change.
“Currently, over four million garment workers and their families live in deprived communities, with many more migrating to already overcrowded areas as the industry grows,” UNICEF representative Edouard Beigbeder, said. “Access to basic services in these slums is often impossible or cost prohibitive. Disease, poverty, illiteracy and exploitation are prolific, trapping garment workers and their families in a cycle of poverty.”
He continued, “This initiative creates an opportunity for leaders in the RMG sector to join other industry stakeholders to expand existing structures, drive sustainable change for children contributing to healthy, educated, stable communities and workforces.”