Until 1996, there were no watchdog organizations to monitor child labor in India’s carpet industry. Some estimated that 1,000,000 children were weaving carpets in South East Asia.
The work of agencies like GoodWeave and LabelStep have changed the handmade rug industry by monitoring looms for illegal child labor. These non-government agencies have been active for decades in creating programs to help to rehabilitate children at risk.
Simple formula. Not so easy to implement.
In 1996, I was asked by then Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada), Pierre Pettigrew, to participate in a panel discussion about child labor. I sat alongside my colleagues from major corporations – NIKE, LEVI STRAUSS and I presented on child labor in India’s carpet industry.
All eyes were on me (meaning fingers were pointed) because everyone was talking about tiny fingers weaving rugs. At that time, there was only a whisper about child labor in other industries – no one was talking about the garment industry – yet.
….as I was presenting, (and it was late in the afternoon and everyone seemed to need an espresso), I stood up and asked “WHO MADE YOUR SHIRT?”.
It’s a good question to ask ourselves whenever we buy an imported product.
Organic Weave is a proud member of GoodWeave International and our rugs are certified free of child labor. Who made your rug?