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10 Facts About Child Labor in India
Child labor binds more than 218 million children around the globe. India has the highest number of children in the world involved in child labor, numbering 10.1 million. Between 4.5 to 5.6 million of these children are between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the 2011 census. Child labor is most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Most of these children are part of the “untouchables” caste, the lowest caste in India. Other castes shun them and they often work in occupations such as burials. Here are 10 facts about child labor in India.

10 Facts About Child Labor in India

  1. Impoverished Children: There are child labor employment agencies in India that look for children in impoverished communities. Often, floods, waterlogging or droughts plague the areas they search. A family’s survival may depend upon their children going to work.
  2. Unregulated Work: Child laborers in India work under the table. The establishments where children work are unregulated. Because of this, employed children do not reap the benefits of child labor laws and other governmental laws that govern the workplace. The children often work from 9 in the morning until 11 or 12 at night. There are many workplaces where the children only get the opportunity to bathe once or twice a week.
  3. Child Labor Reduction: The Indian government says the child labor market has seen a 64 percent decrease between 2005 and 2010. According to the country’s labor ministry, 4.6 million children were working in 2011 verses the 12.6 million a decade earlier. Unfortunately, this is the most recent data, as there has not been a national child labor count since 2011. The definition of what qualifies as child labor is also changing in India.
  4. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking plays an important role in child labor. There are two types of child trafficking: forced labor where children must leave their homes to work in mines or factories and sex trafficking, which often involves young girls. Often, there are Child Domestic Labor placement agencies that are part of this trafficking.
  5. Penalty for Child Labor: Child labor in India was not a punishable offense until a few years ago. Today, if the authorities find a person guilty of being involved in child labor in India, the penalty is a fine between $281.52 and $750.79 or imprisonment for up to two years.
  6. Types of Child Labor: Seventy percent of children involved in child labor in India work in agriculture. Most of the rest work in construction. Many children in India work in hidden workstations, employers’ homes, tiny factories or remote areas.
  7. Child Labor in Metropolitan Areas: Puja Marwaha, the chief executive of Child Rights and You, said that children have migrated to metropolitan areas of Mumbai and Delhi for work. She cited a government report which showed a 60 percent increase in the child workforce of Mumbai in the decade leading up to the census of 2011.
  8. Child Labor Ban: There have been several laws dating back to the 1930s banning child labor in India and promoting education. The Right to Education Act, enacted in 2009, required children between the ages of 6 and 14 to attend school. The Child Labor Protection Act of 1986 banned employing children under the age of 14; however, there are exceptions in the act that allowed children to work in family businesses. Because of these exceptions, critics of the act say that it allows child labor by default in Indian villages.
  9. Mica Mining: Many children involved in child labor in India work in mica mines. These mines often exist deep in the forest far from prying government eyes. The largest mica deposits are in the Kadarma district of Jharkhand province. Generally, mining is the only livelihood the families of these children have. Children also work in India’s coal mines. They are useful in the mines because they can go into holes too small for adults known as rat holes. Many children, especially those working in coal mines, have no training, protection or monetary compensation for injuries.
  10. The Bonded Labor Act: When the Bonded Labor Act releases children from child labor, they receive a certificate and compensation varying from $1,407.58 to $4,222.75. Schools or government-aided NCLP centers admit the kids for their education. If the child is 16 or 17, they receive vocational training. There are many children who were child laborers who are now lawyers or engineers.

There are international companies working toward eliminating child labor in India, including IKEA, which expanded its involvement with Save the Children to reach an additional 790,000 children in India. It also donated 7 million Euros in an effort toward this cause. Eliminating child labor in India requires improving income and education in the nation. Additionally, consumers can help by striving to only buy products that child labor did not produce.

 – Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

Ikea_Serbia

A new e-permit system in Serbia, created with the help of USAID, has shortened the process for obtaining a construction permit from 240 to 28 days. It cut out the 50-plus interactions between the investor and the government. One can register for an e-permit through the Business Register’s Agency website, the Minister of Construction website, or other government websites.

The new e-permit system will help develop Serbia’s important infrastructure as well, particularly transportation. Serbia has been called the “gateway to Europe” as it is the crossroads between Western Europe and the Middle East. The Serbian parliament is looking for private investment in this sector, and the e-permits system has made this process more efficient. In addition, the new e-permit system is allowing the Clinical Center of Serbia to build new healthcare facilities. New jobs in the construction sector lead to new jobs in other sectors. The new e-permit system has not only helped construction in Serbia, it has increased the nation’s GDP by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2016.

One company already taking advantage of the new system is IKEA, and its investment is expected to bring 700 million euros and 300 new jobs to the nation. IKEA took advantage of the new permit process to build a new store in Belgrade. This new store is expected to open in July 2017. IKEA will be the first international business to invest in Serbia after the introduction of the country’s new construction e-permit system. The store in Belgrade is only the first store IKEA is building in Serbia, and the company is planning to invest 300 million euros in five stores across the nation.

IKEA will hopefully pave the way for more investment in Serbia, whether through creating new businesses or encouraging domestic construction in Serbia.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

IKEA_Syrian Refugees
In the wake of President Trump’s recent immigration ban, Howard Schultz has responded by committing Starbucks to create employment for Syrian refugees — 10,000 jobs specifically. One particular company, however, predates not only Schultz’s call but also Trump’s ban.

In 2019, Ikea plans to release a line of rugs and textiles handmade by Syrian refugees.

The Ikea branch in Jordan, which has significantly focused its employment on Syrian refugee women, will currently create an estimated 200 jobs. In large part, this is due to a notorious low employment rate among refugee women. While Jordan has taken in over 650,000 refugees since 2011, only 37,000 work permits have been issued — and most have gone to men. Ikea has guaranteed to be flexible in their working hours with the hired women, as many of them still act as caretakers for their children.

The corporation plans to sell these products in Jordan and neighboring countries that carry free trade agreements. This line will currently run as a limited design.

While their employment for Syrian refugees began before Trump’s executive order, Ikea released a statement on Tuesday saying, “We support the fundamental rights of all people, and do not accept any form of discrimination.”

And indeed, Ikea has held true to this. Last year, the corporation won the 2016 Beazley Design of the Year award from the Design Museum in London for developing a “flat-pack refugee shelter” with the U.N. The flat-pack refugee shelter is made of an insulated steel frame, a solar-paneled roof that provides four hours of electricity and flooring anchored sturdily to the ground. Compared to the cloth tents used by most refugees, this is luxury.

Ikea has also donated $33.3 million to renewable energy projects and electricity for refugees living in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

And still yet, the company is not done: Lars Petersson, Ikea’s U.S. country manager, has also promised “free legal advice to any employee affected by [Trump’s] controversial order.”

Currently, rugs crafted by Syrian refugees will not be sold in North America.

Brenna Yowell

Photo: Flickr

BetterShelter.org
As conflicts rage in various parts of the world, massive amounts of people are displaced. Around 21 million people are currently living as refugees, and over half can be found in just 10 countries: Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Given that only 2.5 percent of the global GDP comes from these nations, a plurality of foreign aid strategies needs to be funded and implemented to ensure that refugees can survive and one day regain control of their lives. One such strategy is developing innovative, cost-effective, comfortable and sustainable shelters to house refugees.

For all people, shelter is a basic survival need, and a great many refugees need better shelter than they currently have. The simple canvas tents used to house many refugees are prone to damage from floods, fires and high winds.

BetterShelter.org delivers its shelters in cardboard boxes, and each shelter only takes about four people to assemble. All shelters are designed to be built by hand. They have sturdy steel frames covered by insulated walls and ceiling materials. Solar panels are installed to generate electricity that can be utilized for anything from providing light to charging electronic devices. In addition to these elements, safety features like mosquito netting and locking doors are now available.

Last year, BetterShelter.org provided housing for 10,000 families across the globe, and the organization hopes to enlarge that number this year. Thanks to a partnership with IKEA and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), its goals looks achievable.

Refugees are forced to leave behind their homes, jobs, schools and dreams to flee dangerous circumstances. It is up to those that have plenty to aid those who have little. Efforts to provide better shelters for refugees need generous support if they are to continue improving the lives of people without a place to call home.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

syrian_refugeesShowing no signs of stopping, the surge of Syrian refugees poses many issues for European and Middle Eastern countries, mainly housing, as the Northern hemisphere gears up for winter.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since the start of 2015 more than 750,000 migrants have arrived by sea to Europe. The large amount of refugees has not only sparked international interest but also a crisis as many European countries struggle to cope with the influx of refugees fleeing to Europe for a better life.

The IKEA Foundation, in collaboration with Better Shelter, has partnered to create safer, more reliable housing options for the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe.

Focusing on cost-effectiveness, IKEA developed a tent that costs approximately $1,000. The tent can comfortably house a family of five and only takes four to eight hours to assemble. The structures come in two sizes: 57 square feet or 188 square feet of living space and will last up to three years. Comparatively, the United Nations (UN) shelters only last three months.

“This is just a tiny part of humanitarian aid. But it’s an important one when it comes to allowing displaced people to live with dignity,” said Johan Karlsson, the main Swedish Industrial designer.

Additionally, the shelters are equipped with solar panels that are durable against extreme temperatures. The solar panels were developed in response to the cited lack of electricity among refugee shelters.

A woman by the name of Mayada, one of many refugees seeking asylum, came to a camp in Jordan ten months ago. She said she never imagined having to live without the most basic necessities, particularly electricity.

“Nowadays electricity is life, and without it even the most simple things become a struggle,” she told visitors from the UN Refugee Agency.

The absence of light and power makes everyday living activities difficult, as well as dangerous, particularly for women. Mayada’s daughter is too scared to go to the bathroom at night and has to wake her parents to accompany her. The solar panels will help to quell their fears.

With the arrival of winter and light disappearing earlier in the day, basic daily functions, as well as communication among refugees, become more difficult.

“You can’t visit friends, the kids can’t do their homework. By nine or 10 o’clock most of the camp is in bed,” Mayada said.

In addition to the solar panels, the tents will also have mosquito nets, windows and a door that locks. The lock option for doors is a simple solution to help prevent sexual assault among refugee women traveling across the Middle East and Europe.

“People tell us it will make a huge difference to them just to be able to switch a light on again, making them feel more at home,” UN Refugee Agency Energy Advisor Paul Quigley said.

The UN has ordered 10,000 of the units to help reduce the Syrian housing crisis. Europe will receive 755 units and 2,600 homes will go to Iraq.

Mayada said when electricity is made more available to the refugee camps, she will no longer have to put on a brave face for the sake of her kids, particularly her daughter.

“I wish I could give [IKEA] all a big kiss between their eyes! It will mean everything to us!” Mayada said.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: PBS, UNHCR, Business Insider, BBC
Photo: Google Images

How the UN Fights Global Poverty2015 represents an important year for the United Nations to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Among the goals that the United Nations has to eradicate poverty and hunger are: to reduce by half the amount of people that make less than $1 per day, accomplish employment and work for everyone including minorities such as women and to reduce by half the amount of people who are suffering from hunger.

The United Nations partners with different organizations and foundations in order to achieve these goals to eradicate poverty.

The Zero Hunger Challenge, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and the UNDP-IKEA Foundation are three movements that the United Nations are partnering with.

1. Zero Hunger Challenge

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives the invitation to every country to work for the future, a future in which every person has adequate nutrition and doesn’t lack food.

The Zero Hunger Challenge involves having no stunted children, 100 percent access to adequate food, sustainable food systems, 100 percent increase in smallholder productivity and zero food waste.

According to this challenge, the investment in agriculture, rural development and equality of opportunity helps to eradicate hunger.

This challenge promotes different strategies and cooperation in order to strive for results that combat hunger.

2. Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement

The principle of this movement is that everyone has the right to good nutrition and food. This movement is supported by donors, people from the government, the United Nations and various others.

This movement seeks to address malnutrition by activities such as implementing programs and collaborations.

The principles of engagement are to be transparent and honest about the impact that collective action has, bring solutions that can be proven and interventions to scale, have a commitment to support the rights and equity of all human beings, resolve conflicts if they arise, be responsible so stakeholders can feel collectively accountable to the commitments, establish priorities and be communicative toward what works and what doesn’t.

3. UNDP-IKEA Foundation

This is a foundation that is benefiting 50,000 women from India.

This foundation has helped 9,000 dairy producers to form a company through provided financial literacy training. Profits also double within a year through the participation of the members.

The United Nations also contributes with other organizations, such as the UNDP and Brazil’s Natura Cosméticos, which brings training to beauty advisors in areas that vary from direct sales to customer training.

It is clear that the United Nations uses different methods to obtain results in the different humanity issues that it focuses on.

While they address different issues such as climate change, terrorism, food production, human rights, health emergencies and many others, global poverty and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is under the Millennium Development Goals that the United Nations has, and partnering with different associations, movements, organizations and foundations has resulted in a way to reach for success in addressing these issues in the year of 2015.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: United Nations 1, United Nations 2, Scaling Up Nutrition
Photo: Flickr

Corporations that make a difference
When reading up on global poverty and matters of social justice, it’s easy to find articles that vilify corporations for their detrimental effects on society. While those businesses certainly do exist, there are also many corporations that make a difference by working for the greater good rather than just their shareholders.

Ranging from the omnipotent Coca-Cola Company to the Swedish powerhouse IKEA, here are a list of corporations that make a difference by using their power and influence to shape a more egalitarian society.

Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola

Since 2008, Kent has held the role of Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola. In his tenure, he has committed the company to achieving water neutrality by 2020, in which “total water use after a development does not exceed the total water use before developing.” Meaning, if new businesses were to spring up where none had existed before, the new tenants would need to employ extreme water efficiency to ensure the same amount of water is being used as prior to the development.

For Coca-Cola, this means recycling and reducing the water its facilities use, as well as harvesting rain water to replenish any diminished supply.

They also hope to distribute the Slingshot, a vapor compression water purification machine which purportedly creates 850 liters of safe drinking water from contaminated sources and uses less power than a hairdryer to operate.

As for why they’re doing it, Kent believes that, “when there’s healthy communities, we have a healthy, sustainable business.” While not the most altruistic of intentions, Kent’s argument echoes the belief that helping developing countries will only increase business for the rest of the United States.

Peter Agnefjäll of IKEA

As the most recently appointed CEO of IKEA, Agnefjäll will continue the furniture company’s race toward high levels of sustainability, both as a means of protecting its future as well as gearing up for the millions of people in poverty they hope to help usher into the middle class.

Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard outlined IKEA’s plans to Forbes contributor Peter Kelly-Detwiler, stressing the importance of addressing all areas of sustainability as key to the company’s success.

“We’ve got emissions that have to peak by 2020, and then we need a rapid decline in order to stabilize the climate. And we are building cities like never before “said Howard. “We have resource scarcity and climate change. So you have to say ‘this has to be a transformative agenda.’  Sustainability used to be a ‘nice to do,’ like planting trees, or doing incrementally less bad.  It’s about a mindset.  If you’re trying to reduce impacts here and there, that won’t do –it’s when you go all in that matters.”

Again, while these may not be extremely altruistic goals, the truly philanthropic branch of the company, the IKEA Foundation, created easily assembled shelters for Syrian refugees. Five people may live in each 17.5 square meter house, which include a solar-powered USB port and built-in lamp.

Michael Kowalski of Tiffany & Co.

Michael Kowalski has been CEO of Tiffany & Co. since 1999. As the leader of an influential and high-end jewelry business for fifteen years, Kowalksi considers the power of the Tiffany brand both an “opportunity and responsibility.”

Some of that responsibility takes place in the store, where Kowalksi believes it’s the brand’s duty to deliver ethically sourced jewelry to its patrons, regardless if theythink to ask about the jewelry’s background.

“That promise begins with an assurance that the materials were sourced and crafted responsibly, including the use of recycled precious metals and a focus on mines that minimize impact on the environment and respect human rights,” said Kowalski to Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani. “It also includes an effort to provide economic opportunities beyond mining in developing countries that host mining operations.”

Among those initiatives include IRMA, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. The project would protect the environment, communities and workers by establishing rigorous standards evaluated by an outside, independent source.

For Kowalksi, Tiffany’s future depends upon a “healthy mining industry.” Like the previous two CEOs, he understands that the continued success of his company and the world depends on greater equality between workers and socially just business practices.

– Emily Bajet

Sources: Forbes, “Muhtar Kent”, Forbes, “IKEA”, Forbes, “CEA of Tiffany & Co.”, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph
Photo: Truist

ikea_campaign_soft_toys
Every year, IKEA, the international furniture giant, launches its seasonal initiative “Soft Toys for Education” campaign. This campaign is aimed to raise funds for children who need access to education in developing nations. According to their website, the company “donates one euro from each IKEA soft toy purchased during the two-month period, through January 4, to UNICEF and Save the Children.” This international effort is rapidly growing.

In addition, every year, IKEA presents a children’s book featuring new characters as a way to entice education. This year’s book is titled “The Princess and the Happiness,” a beautiful fairy-tale that teaches kids that happiness can be found anywhere and everywhere. According to the website, the characters include “the soft toy wolf LUFSIG, the princess NOJSIG and the king GULLGOSSE, the elf KRULLIG, and the fairy with a magic spell SÅNGTRAST.” Each toy is meant to deliver joy, play and knowledge. According to IKEA executives, knowledge through the educational initiatives are crucial for developing nations. Knowledge is the drive for new financial support.

The Soft Toys Education Campaign has been a successful IKEA tradition for nine years and counting. The fundraiser began in 2003 and is growing. According to IKEA executives, the initiative has already supported “10 million children in 46 countries by generating $74 million of funds for 90 projects.” In addition, the money raised through the education campaign is used to “refine child-friendly teaching methods, supply teachers with educational materials, provide better protection and sanitation facilities, and more.”

According to Per Heggens, CEO of the IKEA foundation, “IKEA’s soft toys bring smiles to the faces of thousands of children. But many children across the globe have few reasons to smile. They don’t have access to basic things most of us take for granted—like clean water, food or education. IKEA’s annual Soft Toys for Education campaign makes a real difference—helping thousands of new children every year get an opportunity to receive a quality education.”

Check out the YouTube video below for an inside look on the Soft Toys Initiative: Here

– Stephanie Olaya 

Sources: Pop Sop Ikea Foundation, Gulf Times

ikea_diy_shelter
The Swedish “do-it-yourself” furniture giant, IKEA, has teamed up with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to develop a flatpack shelter that can being used for refugee housing. Currently, there are over 45 million people displaced across the world because of conflict or natural disaster. IKEA is working to return dignity, security, and a life to these people.

IKEA’s flatpack shelters are chock full of innovative technology developed solely for these structures. The shelters are made from a lightweight polymer plastic, which is mounted on a steel skeleton. Refugee Housing Unit designed this polymer plastic to be strong enough to withstand the harsh climates of refugee camps, light enough to be transported cost-effectively, and to create privacy. Each shelter also has a metallic fabric shading cover that reflects the sun during the day and retains heat at night. Solar panels on top of the shade net generate electricity for a built-in light and a USB port inside the shelter.

The shelters require no additional tools for construction and can be built in around four hours. Each one can comfortably house five people for around three years. These features make IKEA’s flatpack shelters a vast improvement over the housing options that are currently available to refugees. Unlike this new innovation, traditional canvas ridge tents are usually not insulated, are half the size, and have a lifespan of around six months, which combined severely limit quality of life.

IKEA’s current flatpack model is two years in the making, but still in the prototype phase. Refugee camps in Iraq, Lebanon, and Ethiopia are testing around 50 of these prototypes. In the future, the design team hopes to increase the shelter’s solar electricity capacity, as well as its water harvesting and purification capabilities. Lockable doors and windows are also in the works.

Thus far, IKEA’s philanthropic branch, IKEA Foundation, has invested $4.8 million into developing the shelters. Each unit reportedly costs around $7,500 to create, but designers are hopeful that they can settle on a cost of $1,000 each, once in mass production. This price is double the cost of current tents, but with a vast amount of additional features most important to refugees.

Though IKEA’s do-it-yourself model can sometimes pose a construction challenge to its average customer, this model excels within the constraints of refugee housing. IKEA has used its fortune to bring innovative, improved shelter to those truly in need of it.

– Tara Young

Sources: NPR, Wired, The Guardian
Photo: Inhabitat

ikea-United-Nations-Refugee-Agency

IKEA has teamed up with the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to improve living conditions for refugees. The Swedish company is developing a program that will build modular shelters for displaced people throughout the world.

Like IKEA’s furniture, each shelter is produced in a ready-to-assemble format. The shelters are made of durable materials and can be constructed in four hours. They are expected to be low-cost and to last longer than current refugee tents, which are only made to withstand six months of use. The IKEA shelters are designed to be more durable than the tents, with a guaranteed life of three years, and to provide better protection for the refugees. UNHCR states that on average, refugees live in their shelters for 12 years.

Each IKEA shelter will come with a solar panel to produce electricity. IKEA hopes that the electricity will make tasks like sewing and cooking easier and will allow children to do homework at night. The shelters will also have specially-made walls constructed with materials that can “deflect heat during the day and retain it at night.”

UNHCR states that 26 shelters have already arrived in Ethiopia. The next nations expected to receive the IKEA shelters will be Iraq and Lebanon in efforts to help create more durable living situations for refugees from the civil war in Syria.

Each IKEA shelter currently costs $8,000, however UNHCR hopes that each unit cost will be reduced to $1,000 in the future. Each refugee tent costs $500, meaning the IKEA shelters will be twice as expensive, but are guaranteed to last six times as long.

While IKEA is helping to fulfill the housing needs in refugee camps, UNHCR is bringing health care, education, and job training to those in need. Together, IKEA and UNHCR are looking to help the 35.8 million refugees throughout the world who strive for a better future.

– Jordan Kline

Sources: IKEA Foundation, Public Radio International, News 24
Photo: FC