What is child labor?
The International Labour Organization (ILO) recognizes child labour as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to children. Instead of going to school and experiencing childhood, 218 million children around the world are involved in this type of work.1
Of those an estimated 250,000 children in India, Nepal and Pakistan are spending long days at the looms, working in poor conditions. In addition to interfering with child development and education, child labour also drives down adult wages, keeping communities trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Of the total number of children working, 126 million are engaged in the worst forms of child labour, defined in ILO Convention 182 as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children,” such as bonded labour, extremely hazardous work and other work that separates children from their families.
What is the economic impact of child labour?
Ending illegal child labour would help the global economy. The ILO’s 2003 Investing in Every Child report shows that it would cost $760 billion over a 20-year period to end child labour. The estimated benefit in terms of better education and health is more than six times that—over $5 trillion in economies where child laborers are found.
Isn’t it true that children in poor countries must work to feed themselves and their families?
Child weavers often work as bonded labourers and never see a penny for their work. Those who are paid make far less than adult weavers, and adult weavers make less in environments where child labour is used because child labour drives down wages.
Aren’t children allowed to work in some countries?
Child labour is illegal in India and Nepal, where GoodWeave certification efforts are based.
Some child weavers work at home, side by side with other family members. Aren't they better off than child weavers in factories?
Sometimes children working at home are worse off. It’s easier for inspectors to enforce fair labor standards in a factory setting than in the privacy of a home. Anything can be hidden behind closed doors. It is legal for children to work in the home, as long as they attend school full-time and are not working against their will.
Isn’t carpet weaving less dangerous than working with machinery or chemicals as some children do?
The health of child carpet weavers is very poor. Many develop respiratory illnesses, spinal deformities, impaired vision and cuts and wounds from sharp tools. Many sleep on the floor next to the carpet looms and are fed only one meal a day. This leads to malnutrition and stunted mental and physical development.
If children are forced to leave carpet weaving, won’t they turn to crime or prostitution?
We ensure that rescued children have an opportunity to go to school. When they’re old enough, children rehabilitated by GoodWeave have the opportunity to learn a trade if they’d like to.
In many countries, carpet weaving is an ancient and honored craft. Why deny children this form of cultural and intellectual expression?
Child labourers in the handmade rug industry typically aren't learning the craft of carpet weaving. They are usually given the most mundane, repetitious tasks because they’re too young to execute complex designs.