SEATTLE — The International Labour Organization defines child labor as labor that prevents children from having a childhood and access to a proper education, healthcare, safety and moral development. The worst forms of child labor can be found in developing countries around the world, where children under the age of 15 are subjected to working in extreme conditions that may be harmful to their health, safety and morals. Nepal is one of many developing countries where children engage in child labor. Of its 7.7 million children between the ages of five and 17 years old, 40.4 percent engage in the worst forms of child labor in Nepal.
Nepalese children of all ages work in industries such as farming, herding, carpet weaving, producing textiles and collecting waste, as well as sex and drug trafficking. The vast majority of these children are girls under the age of 14.
Poverty and Child Labor in Nepal
There is a strong link between poverty and child labor in Nepal. These children receive almost no education and have little knowledge or recognition of what is going on in society. The lack of adequate child protection measures, like legal policies or foundations, will ultimately lead to poverty perpetuating across future generations by keeping children out of school and preventing them from improving their lives.
The government of Nepal has made an oath to end all forms of child labor in Nepal by 2020. However, many human rights campaigners are hesitant to believe this promise, since there has been no visibility in the efforts to deal with this dilemma. As long as poverty, high illiteracy rates and inadequate educational programs remain, the prevalence of child labor will continue in Nepal.
GoodWeave’s Fight Against Child Labor in Nepal
GoodWeave is an international non-profit initiative working to end child labor in the global supply chains. Through their market-based model, they are able to work to rescue, rehabilitate and educate children. GoodWeave currently operates in Nepal, India, Germany, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Nepal GoodWeave Foundation (NGF) is an active partner GoodWeave International. NGF’s presence in Nepal has proven to be an achievable initiative used to effectively confront child labor issues and most importantly influence other organizations, industries and the general public to have concern for the rights of a child.
In its many years of operation in Nepal, NGF has been able to bring more than half of the carpet industry on board with its initiative. Nearly 50 percent of the production companies in Nepal are being inspected and monitored by NGF to ensure effective maintenance of child-free environments in the workshops.
NGF’s Programs and Accomplishments
Through NGF’s Centre Based Rehabilitation Programme, children removed from the factories licensed by the GoodWeave are placed in this center. The children that are typically rescued are either orphans or from broken families and have no possibility of reuniting with their families, mainly due to poor living conditions that prohibit them from attending school.
Hamro Ghar, GoodWeave’s center for rescued child laborers in Kathmandu, is the hub of the rehabilitation program where children are brought in and assessed. Once the children arrive at the center, they are first examined by an NGF counselor whose job is to provide the children with necessary counseling services and interview them in order to classify the children into groups depending on their age and education level. Similarly, a doctor is also based at the center to carry out any medical examinations needed for the rescued children.
The NGF has been able to achieve some major accomplishments in their many years of operation in Nepal. Since March 2016, they have been able to license 2,772 factories, inspect over 65,772 factories, reunite 991 children with their families and bring more than 1,128 child laborers to the Goodweave centers for rehabilitation. And these numbers continue to increase.
Various measures have also been taken by governmental organizations. The government of Nepal has ratified the international commitments to combat child labor and has also created the Child Labour Elimination Section under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. But these measures are still not enough. The elimination of all forms of child labor in Nepal requires immediate and sustainable actions from organizations and foundations, like that of the GoodWeave.
– Zainab Adebayo