According to U.S. DOL, India has the largest number of urban and rural child workers in the world. The Government of India acknowledges at least 17.5 million working children, but estimates by various organizations range from 44 million to over 100 million child workers. Major export industries with child labor include hand-knotted carpets, gemstone polishing, brass and base metal articles, glass and glassware, footwear, textiles and silk, and fireworks. Children are also exploited as bonded laborers, particularly in the carpet industry.

Other industries in India alleged to use child labor are: locks; leather; pottery; granite, mica, slate mining and quarrying; auto parts and accessories; cashew processing; coir (coconut fiber) products; iron and steel products; wood, rattan, and walnut furniture; suitcases and trunks; sports goods; garments; tile; and shrimp and seafood processing.

A Better Brick: Addressing Child Labor in Nepal’s Brick-Making Industry




By Deborah Andrews

Prior to the April 2015 earthquake, Nepal was in the midst of a construction boom that was struggling to keep up with the rapidly increasing population and urbanization trends. After the earthquake, the need to rebuild further increased the demand for bricks. For workers on Nepal’s kilns, the brick industry played a much needed role as a source of income for unskilled labor, although the industry has been characterized by exploitative employment practices.

The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) with its partners – GoodWeave International, Brick Clean Group Nepal (BCN) and Humanity United (HU) – recognized the importance of the sector and saw an  opportunity to create incentives based partnerships to bring improvements to an informal, migrant, working population with little government representation or oversight. A project named Better Brick Nepal (BBN)’ is paving the way for nationwide change throughout the brick kiln industry.


Here are the top 10 facts you need to know:

  1. The number of kilns currently operating in Nepal is thought to be between 1,200 and 3,000 –with a large number of unregistered kilns. Many kilns exist on the periphery of communities where there is little government oversight, community organization or worker association representation which leaves the workers wide open to exploitative practices.
  1. Approximately 250,000 people are thought to work annually in kilns throughout Nepal, of that as many as 60,000 are children. Brick workers are largely an unskilled, migrant population. Most are migrating from within Nepal, but some are from northern India, resulting in many children living temporarily in a community which speaks a different language to their own and being part of a school system which is completely different and non-transferable – if the school is willing to take them in at all. A number of educational deficits take place.

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GoodWeave’s Nina Smith on Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi–an engineer of freedom

[This article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor on October 21, 2014]

By Nina Smith, GoodWeave International 

My long-time friend, colleague, and mentor has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kailash Satyarthi is a hero to many people, all of them certainly glad that this kind, original, and tenacious man has at last received such recognition. As my career has been devoted to advancing and realizing his ideas, I want to offer some insight into the individual who has driven the global movement to end child labor.

Because of his work, we now know there are 168 million child laborers worldwide. They used to be invisible.

Kailash started risking his life for these children more than 30 years ago, when he broke into Indian factories to emancipate them. Early footage of him doing this “raid and rescue” work showed the world that child slavery exists.

Along with his wife, Sumedha, he helped those he rescued to recover and find their place in the world, and he put their stories on the global stage, shaming lawmakers and companies into acknowledging the systemic exploitation of children for economic gain.

Kailash’s problem-solving approach sets him apart. He worked as an electrical engineer before he became a freedom fighter, and he draws on the critical, analytical thinking of his trade to advocate for the world’s forgotten children.

Kailash is a true social entrepreneur who created numerous programs and organizations that together form a robust movement that targets the root causes of child labor. He would interject here to emphasize that this has been, by necessity, a collective effort. But he has been a leader at almost every stage of the journey to reform the systems that enable child labor.

My connection to Kailash is through GoodWeave, an organization that he created in 1994. At that time there were over 1 million children weaving carpets in South Asia alone.

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CHILD LABOR COALITION PRESS RELEASE: The Child Labor Coalition applauds the selection of Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai as recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize

Washington, DC – The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group of 34 organizations dedicated to fighting exploitative child labor, is celebrating the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai—two tireless and courageous advocates for the universal education of children and child rights. For the past 25 years, the CLC has worked closely with Satyarthi, who has freed tens of thousands of child slaves, to reduce child labor around the world.

“Last week, a true champion in the fight to end child labor was rightfully recognized by the international community,” said Sally Greenberg, CLC co-chair and executive director of the National Consumers League. “The number of child workers worldwide continues to decrease, and we must thank tireless advocates like Kailash Satyarthi for championing this effort. Satyarthi has committed his life to ensuring that children have access to education and a childhood. Satyarthi’s efforts have helped pull millions of children out of child labor and given these children new opportunity and hope.”

“There are no two people more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also an organizational co-chair of the CLC. “Their courageous efforts in fighting for universal education and protecting children from exploitation and abuse are making our world a better place for generations to come. The right to an education is too often taken for granted. Malala and Kailash’s work reminds us that much still needs to be accomplished to ensure that all children, regardless of gender, family income, religion or homeland, are able to go to school and have the chance to reach their God-given potential.”

“The Nobel Prize is a fitting tribute to Kailash’s years of selfless dedication and vision,” said Dr. Lorretta Johnson, a CLC’s co-chair and AFT’s secretary-treasurer. “We have made much progress together, but in many ways our work has far to go. We look forward to continuing to stand with Kailash in the fight against hazardous labor, modern-day slavery, and human trafficking as we strive to achieve quality education for the world’s children.”

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2014 World Day Against Child Labor Speech by Tom Harkin on the Senate Floor

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) delivered this speech on the Senate floor on  – June 12, 2014:

Mr. President, today, June 12, 2014, is the day set aside by the International Labor Organization to bring attention to the tragic predicament of millions of children across the globe who continue to be trapped in forced and abusive labor, often in extremely hazardous conditions.

So today is the World Day Against Child Labor. It is a day set aside every year globally for people to take a look at what is happening to kids around the globe who are forced into very abusive and exploitative labor conditions.

I think we should obviously think about these children more than just one day a year. We should think about them every day.

In my travels I have seen the scourge of forced and abusive child labor firsthand. Previously on the floor–going back for almost 20 years–I have spoken about how shocked I was to see the deplorable conditions under which some of these kids are forced to work. I have witnessed this personally in places from South Asia to Latin America, to Africa.

These pictures I have in the Chamber are, as a matter of fact, pictures I took myself. This picture was taken in a rug-making place in Kathmandu, Nepal. We were told there were no children being forced into this kind of labor, but under the cover of darkness, on a Sunday night–it was probably after about 8 o’clock in the evening–we were able to make entry into one of these back-alley places, and this is what we came across: young people, girls and boys, some as young as 8 years of age, working at these looms. I remind you, this is at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night. They lived in barracks. They were housed, kind of stacked in barracks, so they could not leave, they could not go anywhere, they could not see their families.

Here is another picture of some older girls. These are young teenage girls working at the same place. I did not take that picture because this is me in the picture. This picture was taken by Rosemary Gutierrez, my staff person.

So I witnessed this firsthand. Even though we were told no such thing existed, we found it did exist.

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