Women and children in focus
The vast majority of those who work in textile manufacturing around the world are women. At Kappahl we are working in various ways to strengthen women’s and children’s rights in the countries where we manufacture our clothes.
Training centre for women in Bangladesh
“It was tough going at the start. Free training for women with lunch included, plus a modest wage? It seemed too good to be true. There was skepticism from the local community”, says Shahanaz Begum, director of Kappahl’s training centre in Bangladesh. “But something happened. The first intake of women started working and earning a wage. They were a testament to the positive changes the centre could bring. Today, the number of applicants is higher than the number of traineeships available.”
Kappahl Garments Training Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has trained more than 1,000 women since it opened in 2009. The women have acquired sewing skills, reading and writing literacy and are also instructed in their rights as workers. The women receive a wage during the months spent with us and on completing the training, all the women are offered employment. The centre is run by the TCM Foundation and is fully funded by Kappahl.
Keen to know more about our efforts in Bangladesh? Watch the videos below.
Child labour is never acceptable
We do not accept child labour, and want children in our manufacturing countries to have the best possible start in life through education and other stimuli.
Our education centre for women in Bangladesh is one of our commitments in which we have seen that parental opportunities for education and employment have huge influence on their children. Another example is our commitment to Better Cotton Initiative where the rights of the child are focal in the education provided to cotton farmers. Through methods that result in more sustainable and profitable cotton farming, BCI is creating better conditions for children to receive an education rather than working on the family smallholding.
As in so many other industries, the risk of child labour increases the further down in the value chain you move. This makes it imperative to address child labour within cotton farming for example. Although the risk of child labour is now low among those we work with, our Sustainability Commitment (previously Code of Conduct) stresses that we do not accept child labour. Our suppliers must, in turn, make the same requirement of their sub-suppliers. We also have an explicit procedure for the actions we take if child labour is discovered at any of our supplier enterprises.
Want to find out more? Read our Sustainability Commitment (previously Code of Conduct) in which we define child labour in line with ILO Convention No. 138.
”One way out of poverty is education and employment. To that end, we established an education centre for women.”
Big changes for the female cotton growers we are training
How can we grow cotton in a more sustainable way? A way that uses less water, pesticides and fertilisers? And that is not only better for the environment and the cotton growers’ health, but also yields more, better quality cotton?
1,546 female cotton growers in India have learnt to do just that, through a two-year training project that we and four industry colleagues have implemented with the organisation Cotton Connect under the Better Cotton Initiative’s umbrella.
The women cotton growers have, among other things, learned about crop rotation, how to protect their crops and reduce water use, and about the benefits of organic fertilisers. But they have also learnt about managing personal finances and savings, equality, nutrition and health, family planning, water and sanitation, and social rights.
“This new knowledge empowers the women in their families and gives them a strong voice in their communities. This has positive effects for the whole family,” says Eva Kindgren de Boer, sustainability project manager at Kappahl.
“This has been a very successful project in every respect. For example, these new skills have seen the cotton growers’ profits rise by a full 87%,” says Eva Kindgren de Boer.
This particular project was limited in time to between 2017 and 2019, but the plan is to run similar projects on a regular basis, either independently or jointly with industry colleagues.