Recently, I had quite an experience unlike any before. I am now an aunty of a new born baby girl; Asya. Very proud! How beautiful, pure, and innocent she is! Words cannot describe my feelings, my love I feel so strongly for her. I recognise she needs to be protected, supported by our family so she can become a beautiful young lady one day. And I know she also needs our love and guidance to discover her dreams and the meaning of being here in this world.
But is it only my niece that needs that support from our end, or only your child, or only your family members who you should protect and give them everything they need? What about 255 worldwide births per minute or 4.3 births every second? Aren't they also our children, and our future too?
Since we are all role models, our actions will be copied by our children in the future, so I urge you to carefully think about responsibilities we have for our upcoming generations.
One of the critical issues that disturbs me a lot recently is child labour and education. I feel so strongly about this issue, especially after my niece was born. Imagining her under similar circumstances not only breaks my heart, but it also gives me a lot of grief and pains my soul. Put your loved ones in the same situation for a minute and feel their pain. Do you have some sense of understanding what my message is to you now?
The term child labour is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity; harmful to their physical and mental development. In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age.
Recently, The United Nations announced ambitious plans to eliminate child labour by 2020 after research revealed high growth in developing nations. Child labour, the UN says, "exacerbates the risk of being out of school. In India, non-attendance rates for child labourers are twice the level for children not involved in child labour."
I know the condition is alarming, but what is our role here to change it? How can we prevent sweat shop labour at fashion from our end as consumers?
Here are 5 steps to eliminate or to reduce the high risk of child labour and help us to achieve the norms of ethical fashion;
1- Be aware of the situation and its risk on our community and never be blind to it. Sweatshop labour for high street brands became a mainstream issue, and after plenty of companies have instituted monitoring of their supply chains, the problem still seems endemic right across the global clothing and footwear sector. Many of the factories supplying the brands likely to dominate the high street market are routinely breaking every rule in the book when it comes to labour rights.
2- Encourage yourself and the people around you to be a part of the momentum. June 12th is "the World Day Against Child Labour" since the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched it in 2002. Its intention is to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour. This momentum is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the sweatshop labour to gain further support of individual governments, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women's groups, as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.
3- Speak loudly and use social media to get your message across. Maybe each one of us won't be enough to convey our messages, but if we come together we will have the power to make changes. Never hesitate to share your thoughts and knowledge about the issue; utilize Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and other great social network chains where you can reach millions.
4- Support ethical fashion brands and praise their contribution to free child labour. Simply protesting the brands involved with child labour is not the only effective way, we also should promote the brands that are supporting ethical fashion and improved working conditions.
The ethical performance of companies is under increasing scrutiny from customers, the media, investors and other stakeholders. Revelations of child labour in the supply chain can damage a company's reputation and lead to a loss of revenue. Conversely, a child labour free supply chain can help protect your company's reputation and ensure you have an educated and capable workforce for the long-term. Don't you think these companies deserve to be praised?
5- Don't buy it! As a consumer you have a powerful voice. Although many products at high street have been made with child labour, it is not easy to trace. If we pay as much attention as possible to the high street brands and their actions, and take it into consideration when buying their goods, we can force the change. For instance, by making sure and demanding that what you buy has not been made by children; otherwise we don't buy it.
If you'd like to know more about your favourite brands, Rank a Brand is a site that lets you compare how transparent, green and fair your favourite brands are. This information allows you to choose brands that demonstrate they are concerned about fair working conditions.
Let's all do our share, and prevent sweatshop labour from ever ruining our generations to come. For our children, our babies, and our future.