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restricted labor force in india
While stories of India’s gender gap have been in the media spotlight in past years, a recent census shows the depth of the inequality. India is rated 101 out of a 136 country survey for gender disparity, with lower economic opportunities and a lower literacy rate. With a population of over a billion, nearly 160 million women are estimated to be restricted to domestic work, many of whom are of working age.

With a restricted labor force in India, the capacity for growth and development is hindered. Additionally, the options women do have are limited by unequal access to education and training. While this problem has been acknowledged, its scope was underestimated. Sociologists hope that governmental encouragement of women in the workforce can help reduce illiteracy and poverty among women.

However, even women who are employed are more likely to be “vulnerably employed” than their male counterparts. This term, used by an ILO study to describe nearly 84 percent of South Asian women, refers to the risk these workers face: seasonal employment and more easily terminated services leaves them with little job security. Additionally, these workers perform mostly domestic services, a trend which consistently reinforces the patriarchal hierarchy in India.

With job security being a problem for women, the government is hoping that opening up more opportunities in the public sector, now dominated by men, can have an equalizing effect for the women of India. With women and girls being among the most disadvantaged in the world, employing them and fostering growth in education and literacy is in the best interest for 21st century India.

For as large of a nation as it is, the hindrances on the labor force have not allowed India to realize its potential. For the generations of women now and those in the future, women must have the opportunity to come out of the domestic sphere and into the working world.

– Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Silicon India, ISP News
Photo: Worldbank

Global March Against Child Labor
In 1998, a group of forward-thinking activists organized the Global March Against Child Labor. It took groups from over 100 countries to lead a march that crossed 103 countries and ended at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June 1998, where activists from all over the world rallied to end child labor.

In response, the ILO began the World Day Against Child Labor in 2002. Every year on June 12, governments, citizens and civil societies gather to focus the world’s attention on child laborers and create campaigns to help them.

The movement has lofty ambitions but is still doing a great job of fulfilling them. Before the turn of the millennium, there were nearly 250 million children who were child slaves. The figure has now dropped almost 100 million and is estimated to be around 168 million.

Girls in particular have benefited from this as their numbers have dropped nearly 40 percent since then, while boys have dropped 25 percent. Despite this, some 88 million children still work in potentially fatal jobs.

Like many problems that need to be solved, one method employed in the reduction of child labor is simply raising awareness. The Global March Against Child Labor has proven to governments and civil societies around the world that this is something that needs to be stopped.

The U.S. Department of Labor has played a critical role in producing promotional documents and reports that have been quite successful in raising awareness of this terrible issue. Additionally, USAID acknowledged the power of video and strung together compelling footage in what eventually came to be a feature film about child labor, titled “Stolen Childhoods.”

USAID has played a big role as well in raising awareness. Through the Global Labor Program, USAID has helped workers in Liberia mobilize against employers and has ensured that any exploitative wage practices were discontinued. As children were typically employed in rubber plants in Liberia, USAID managed to ensure that children would not be separated from their parents if they worked, and also oversaw the building of a school on the plant. The employers agreed to pay the adults a living wage.

Another entity that is vital to ending child labor is business. Thanks to the Global March Against Child Labor and USAID’s awareness campaigns, a spotlight has been placed on businesses and their obligation to ensuring that children are not working.

The most prominent advocate of this is the program GoodWeave. This is a system by which companies in India can be certified to ensure that children are not used in the creation of rugs or carpets. Since its inception in 1995, GoodWeave has approved of over 11 million carpets. In that time, the number of children who work in carpet factories has dropped from 1 million to 250,000.

The Global March Against Child Labor was the beginning of a bold social movement, but now we must celebrate and continue its ongoing achievements.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: USAID Blog, International Labour Organization, U.S. Department of Labor, Global March
Photo: List Top Tens

modern day slavery shocking facts
The facts about modern day slavery are shocking and remain largely unknown to much of society. Below are the top modern day slavery facts.

 

Top Modern Day Slavery Facts

 

1. When Americans think about slavery, what often comes to mind is the transatlantic slave trade, Africans displaced from their homeland and the Underground Railroad. Though slavery has officially been abolished, modern day slavery exists. Slavery is not simply a thing of the past. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 20 to 30 million people who are in slavery at this moment. This is a large increase from the 12.3 million slaves estimated in the 2005 study done by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The number is huge and leaves many wondering what can be done to help those who endure the cruelties of others who enslaved and stripped these individuals of their freedom.

2. Contemporary slavery is not restricted to just one area. Forced labor lies within the realms of sexual abuse and prostitution, state-enforced work and many others. According to the ILO, someone is enslaved if he or she is:

  • forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • owned or controlled by an “employer,” usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • dehumanized, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as “property”
  • physically constrained or has restrictions placed on freedom of movement

3. As of 1981, slavery is not considered legal anywhere. That year, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery. However, the act of owning slaves didn’t become a crime in Mauritania until 2007. That being said, many in the country defied the law regardless. In fact, only one slave-owner has been successfully prosecuted in Mauritania. Despite the fact that slavery is illegal, it continues to happen and the practice affects all ages, races and genders.

4. Slave-owners often use euphemisms instead of the term “slavery” in order to avoid getting caught. Such euphemisms include: debt bondage, bonded labor, attached labor, restavec (a French word that means “one who stays with”), forced labor and indentured servitude.

5. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons report, there are 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year; 80 percent of those victims being female. Even more shocking is the fact that 50 percent of these people are children under the age of 18. These victims live within 161 different countries.

6. Slavery doesn’t just reach adults; children are a very large part of contemporary slavery, especially in prostitution. According to the U.S. Department of State, one million children are exploited by the global sex trade every year. The average age a teen enters the American sex trade is 12-14 years of age. These children are typically runaways who were abused sexually at an even younger age.

7. The average cost of a slave is about $90.

Samantha Davis

Sources:  CNN: Freedom ProjectAntislavery.orgCNNAbolitionMedia.org
Photo: Lisa Kristine

 

Modern Day Slavery UK Government Freedom in Work
Although slavery has been abolished in the United States for around 150 years, slaves still exist in the world today. Currently, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates there are around 21 million people in slavery across the world.

What is modern day slavery?

  • Trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • Forced labor of children as domestic workers
  • Forced labor of girls in the garment industry
  • Unpaid agricultural work
  • Child marriage
  • Debt bondage
  • Forced labor
  • Descent-based slavery (born into slavery)

One young victim reflects on her experience as a slave:

“I was very afraid, but had no other option than to stay at my workplace. The house where I was sent as a housemaid was occupied by a large family. I was forced to work both in the house and in a shop. I had to work for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. None of the people in the home were supportive, and I was tortured on many occasions and in different ways.”

5 important facts about slavery:

  1. 90 percent of slavery is exploitation done by individuals and companies, while the remaining 10 percent is through forced work by the state, rebel military groups or prisons.
  2. Although slavery exists within every country, more than half of today’s 21 million slaves are found in Asia.
  3. 55 percent of slaves are women and children, since these populations are vulnerable and easily exploited.
  4. Human trafficking ranks as the third most profitable global crime, behind drug and arms dealings. In 2005, illegal profits from forced labor amounted to more than $44 billion.
  5. Forced labor impedes economic development and perpetuates poverty. For example, people in forced labor lose at least $21 billion each year in unpaid wages and recruitment fees.

The United Kingdom (UK) government launched a program to combat slavery in July. The Work in Freedom program aims to prevent 100,000 girls and women across South Asia from entering into labor trafficking. Through the Department for International Development and the ILO, £9.75 million will be invested in the Work for Freedom program over five years.

How will the Work for Freedom program combat slavery?

Millions of men and women from poor communities in Asia migrate to find employment and to help their families financially. The Work for Freedom project aims to tackle known trafficking routes to prevent these men and women from being exploited.

Since most of the trafficking in Asia is related to labor, Work for Freedom will focus on providing women with necessary skills and vocational training to help them secure legal employment with a decent wage. The program will also educate vulnerable men and women of their rights, and help them organize collectively. Finally, the program will prevent child labor by helping children stay in school instead of migrating for work.

The UK’s Work for Freedom program will help reduce slavery, in turn empowering the world’s vulnerable and decreasing global poverty.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian: Modern Day Slavery Explainer, Gov.UK: Work in Freedom, Gov.UK
Photo: Gov.uk