September 2, 2015
Things get better when we roll together. Today, we’re excited to share that Target has teamed up with GoodWeave in support of their mission to end child labor in the rug industry. It’s part of our long history of making sure all of our global manufacturers meet our high standards for responsible labor practices. GoodWeave Executive Director Nina Smith joined Irene Quarshie, Vice President of Product Quality and Responsible Sourcing at Target, to tell us more about what this groundbreaking partnership has the potential to do.
How did GoodWeave get started, and what’s its goal?
Nina: Our founder, Kailash Satyarthi [winner of the Dec. 2014 Nobel Peace Prize], started the organization 20 years ago to tackle the worst forms of child labor worldwide, starting with the rug industry in South Asia. Today, the program’s evolved to deal with many other interrelated workers’ rights issues, as well as community-level needs like education and health care. We have offices in Washington, D.C., the U.K. and Germany, with key operations on the ground in South Asia, India, Nepal and Afghanistan.
Irene: The Target partnership is focused on India, where all of our owned-brand woven rugs are made, and, unfortunately, child labor is common. GoodWeave provides independent, third-party certification that Target’s rugs are being produced with the utmost integrity. We’ll be GoodWeave’s largest partner there—our facilities began receiving GoodWeave oversight earlier this year and the first certified rugs began appearing in stores this summer.
GoodWeave’s program is designed to help workers and communities. How so?
Nina: Three main ways: We work with brands like Target that are committed to social good, to educate them about supply chain issues like child labor and certify their products so we can improve working conditions together. Our teams in South Asia conduct random, unannounced manufacturer inspections that help identify and rescue kids in abuse situations. Then, we implement child labor prevention programs to make sure the kids in carpet weaving communities are attending school, and that there’s literacy, health care and other support for both kids and adults. Here’s an example of how we helped a young girl named Sanju get back to her family.
Irene: All too often, families in some of our countries of production are forced to choose between paying for their children to attend school and sending children to work to help support the family. Our partnership provides educational opportunities for children who might otherwise be sent to work in India’s rug industry.
How can guests tell if a product is GoodWeave-certified?
Nina: Just look for the label on the back of each rug. It has a GoodWeave symbol and an individual number that can be tracked back to the maker.
Irene: We hear a lot of guests tell us they’re interested in knowing not only where products were made, but also how and under what conditions. So we’re currently working with our teams to tell more stories about how we source our owned- and exclusive-brand products ethically and responsibly—including our work with GoodWeave.
So big picture: How will this partnership generate support and strengthen the cause?
Irene: By supporting GoodWeave’s mission, our guests can buy an owned-brand woven rug at Target and know they’re playing a part in eliminating child labor in the rug industry, and educating thousands of children in India. That’s a really big deal, and something we’re very proud of.
Nina: It’s true. By working together, we harness the influence brands have. So far, GoodWeave has helped reduce the number of exploited children from 1 million down to an estimated 200,000, and we’re closing in on our goal of getting that down to zero by 2020. What drives the change is when brands like Target get behind the program and lead others. Having a partner like Target sends a huge message to manufacturers, consumers, partners and other brands around the world.
Middle photo © U. Roberto Romano, courtesy of GoodWeave
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