GoodWeave: New Standards for Child-Labor-Free Textiles
From her studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Joan Weissman designs vibrant, ornate rugs that are woven by hand with wool and fine silk. With each collection and customized design, her creations go from pencil sketches to authentic bodies of work that are crafted and shipped to the United States by artisans in Nepal.
Attached to each imported rug is a little label with a traceable serial number that serves as proof that Weissman’s rugs were made by the hands of skilled craftsman, not by the tiny hands of children. Since its conception in 1994, GoodWeave, formerly called the RugMark Foundation, has been working to get these labels—featuring GoodWeave’s blue and tan emblem—attached to every rug manufactured in India and Nepal, two countries where child labor is excessively exploited.
Goodweave is working to develop a new standard for the products it certifies, and welcomes public comment on this standard when it is announced at the end of June 2010.
Each label and its corresponding serial number confirm that the rug’s manufacturer underwent strict inspections, guaranteeing its production in a factory employed by adults only.
In the 1980s, the world turned its attention to the atrocities of child labor in the handmade carpet industry when international human rights organizations released reports of illegal incidents taking place worldwide. Some of the worst cases of exploitation and trafficking occurred in South Asia, the region where GoodWeave currently operates.
Rugmark was a winner in the How to Create Market-Based Strategies that Benefit Low-Income Communities competition and a finalist in the Ending Global Slavery competition.
According to GoodWeave, desperate parents regularly force their children into debt bondage, causing nearly 250,000 children from the ages of 5 to 14 to forgo education and carefree playtime to spend strenuous hours in harmful factories. To give these children the freedom to lead normal lives, a group of businesses, government agencies and community organizations banded together to form a coalition dedicated to enforcing regulations and providing children with proper education, vocational training, and rehabilitation.
Since the RugMark and GoodWeave label system was introduced in 1995, more than 7.5 million rugs have been certified child-labor free and over 3,600 children have been rescued from factories and thousands more have been deterred from becoming weavers. They’re able to reunite with their families and are given the opportunity to attend one of the many schools the GoodWeave supports through donations and the sale of certified rugs.
Now the GoodWeave label, which was launched in August 2009, will allow GoodWeave to respond strategically to a broader array of child labor challenges in the textile industry as a whole, reaching into the markets of silk sari production, embroidery, beading work, and Nepalese pashmina shawls, while still working with the carpet industry.
GoodWeave Executive Director, Nina Smith, believes that their work has the potential to bring child labor to an end by 2018, by creating a deep penetration in the key consumer markets of the United States, where 30 percent of all rugs are purchased globally, as well as in the European Union, which accounts for 25 percent of the market.
“We need to get the general public to think differently about textiles and act as responsible global citizens,” Smith said. “GoodWeave wants people say, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with this textile if there’s no certification to show that a child wasn’t enslaved to create it,’ instead of simply saying, ‘I need to have a rug or a pashmina shawl’. We want to make this issue part of mainstream conversations, so that manufacturers and importers will be forced to take child labor seriously.”
You don’t have to be a member of the carpet or textile industry to make sure child protection laws aren’t swept under the rug. Be sure to look for the GoodWeave label during your next carpet or textile purchase, share this information with your friends, and ask your local retailer to stock its shelves with certified textiles.
Goodweave is also working to develop a new standard to incorporate new environmental and child labor criteria on the products it will certify, and welcomes public comment on this standard when it is announced at the end of June 2010.
|[banner-36911:]Nina Smith, executive director of GoodWeave USA, and the GoodWeave label on a carpet||64.4 KB|