GoodWeave International is a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending illegal child labour in the rug making and textile industries. Here, Sonny Puryear, Director of Business Engagement and Marketing tells The House Directory how the global network came into being and how for almost three decades it has been transforming the lives of thousands of vulnerable people.
Can you tell us a little bit about GoodWeave – when and where was it founded, by whom and why?
GoodWeave was founded in 1994 by Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi. In the early 1990s he was a guest on a live television talk show in Germany and during the program an elderly woman called into the show. She had heard Satyarthi speaking about the terrible problem of child labour in South Asia’s rug industry. Extremely moved, she said she was going to throw out her rug. Then she issued a challenge. “I am very old. I only have 10 years left. I can’t wait. You look young. You must do something so that I can buy a new rug.” This was the catalyst for the beginning of GoodWeave. Satyarthi has since won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his efforts founding GoodWeave as well as his many other initiatives to stop child labour.
What are the aims of the organisation?
GoodWeave is the leading international non-profit organisation working to stop child labour in global supply chains. Our approach combines the power of consumers and business to create social change, and addresses both the causes and symptoms of child labour. We partner with companies and local communities to bring visibility to hidden supply chains, protect workers’ rights, restore childhoods and to provide assurance that products are free of child, forced and bonded labour.
How does GoodWeave achieve these goals?
Our primary tool is the GoodWeave System, which is a comprehensive, market-based approach that goes beyond simple prohibition to change cultural norms, protect children and families and address the root causes of child labour.
Some end-use consumers know about the retailer they purchase from and perhaps about the brand name on a product. However, most don’t know about sub-contracted supply chains, often hidden from view, such as those found in homes. There could be any number of informal, hidden worksites for any given manufacturer. When companies partner with GoodWeave they grant full access to their multi-level supplier network and production sites. Frequent, unannounced inspections made against the GoodWeave Standard create an incentive to stop exploitation, and when we do find victims, we provide a programme of rehabilitative services and interventions.
Recurrence is prevented by addressing root causes, with whole communities engaged to advocate for access, rights, education and freedom. This ensures that all children are in school and learning, which is proven to be the best long-term solution to poverty. Likewise, it improves working conditions for parents.
How has the organisation expanded since its inception – both in terms of its remit and its reach?
GoodWeave started as a grassroots effort in India and is now a global organisation operating under the GoodWeave International umbrella. Initially, the focus was on rugs and the aim was to certify them against the GoodWeave Standard, which assures they are produced without child, forced or bonded labour. This has helped completely transform the rug sector.
We now also carry out licensing and certification work in the home textile, apparel and fashion jewellery industries, as well as implementing projects in other industries such as brick production. GoodWeave has more than 400 company partners in 22 countries, and projects in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The UK is especially important, as it’s our second largest global market for the sale of GoodWeave certified products.
Where is the organisation based and how many people does it employ?
GoodWeave International’s headquarters are in Washington DC and it has 14 people on staff based both in the U.S. and Europe, including the UK. Headquarters. Staff are primarily focused on fundraising, marketing, new business partnerships and programme oversight. Our regional affiliate offices and programmes in India and Nepal employ approximately 100 people including community-based staff. These teams focus on carrying out inspections, monitoring and remediation activities in partner company supply chains, as well as implementing social programming in producer communities.
How can companies get involved with GoodWeave or become a part of the program?
Rug, home textile, apparel, and fashion jewellery importers interested in our licensing and certification program can find more information on our website and by emailing us at Partnership@GoodWeave.org. The GoodWeave certification label offers the best assurance that no child or forced labour was used.
It also means a percentage of the purchase price supports programs that educate children and improve working conditions for adults in producer communities. In addition, we implement dedicated projects in cooperation with company and brand partners. For example, in Bangladesh we are carrying out research projects on working conditions in ready-made garment supply chains as well as developing child and forced labour prevention programmes together with several European brands.
How can consumers find products that are certified with a GoodWeave label?
Visiting the Shop section on our website is the best way to find out where GoodWeave labelled rug and home textile products are sold. We’ll soon launch a new “Find Certified Products” search on our website, so stay tuned for that. In addition, many of our licensees reference their affiliation with GoodWeave on their websites, in catalogues, and on social media platforms. Throughout the UK, rug and home interior brands carry GoodWeave labelled products online and in their shops, showrooms and design centres.
Are there any other ways that companies and consumers can get involved or help the cause?
In addition to seeking out GoodWeave labelled rugs, companies and consumers can support our work by signing up for our newsletter and updates at GoodWeave.org. They can also follow and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and donate to our cause in USD or GBP.
They can also promote World Day Against Child Labour (annually on 12th June) by talking about the issue on social media, as well as with family and friends.
London-based rug maker Tania Johnson founded her eponymous company in 2002. Here she explains why being a GoodWeave certified business is so important to her.
“From the time my company was formed, I wanted to ensure our rugs were produced ethically and to help improve working conditions for the communities involved in their production. Partnering with GoodWeave made this possible. When I first started working with factories in Nepal back in 2009, I got a list of all the GoodWeave-certified manufacturers as my starting point.
Having visited the children at GoodWeave’s rehabilitation centre, Hamro Ghar, in Kathmandu a couple of times, I have seen first-hand the direct impact of the amazing work GoodWeave does on a daily basis. I love to be able to talk to our customers about GoodWeave’s work. Increasingly our clients want to understand the process and know that their handmade rug is being produced in an ethical way, and I am both proud and grateful to be a part of such an organisation.”
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