23. February 2014 · Comments Off on GoodWeave and the Faces of Freedom Exhibit · Categories: Fiber news and events

GoodWeave is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child labor in the carpet industry.  Just as in the garment industry, many children in south Asian countries are involved in the process of making goods destined for the western marketplace.  These children are often sold by their parents (some as young as 4-years-old) and spend as much as 18 hours per day working in loom sheds, exposed to fibers causing respiratory illnesses and sharp tools causing injuries.  In addition, they suffer from problems such as malnutrition and deformities from the crouched position they must assume at the loom.  In many cases, girls who are sold into the carpet industry are sold into the sex industry when they get older.

GoodWeave accomplishes its objective by running a certification program that allows those companies and home-based businesses who comply with the no-child-labor standard to use the GoodWeave label.  These manufacturers are subject to surprise inspections by local GoodWeave inspectors.  Additionally, GoodWeave provides child care services for workers in the carpet industry, education for their children, and rescues child workers directly from the looms, offering them education and training so they can find better lives.  These approaches have likely contributed to the shift in the industry from 1 million child workers before GoodWeave’s founding in 2001 to 250,000 today.

Faces of Freedom is GoodWeave’s national traveling photography exhibit and the reason for my post today.  It depicts the carpet industry, the bad as well as the good changes that have been made.  Please take a few minutes to flip through the online gallery and read the captions to learn more about this industry and what can be done through the efforts of organizations like GoodWeave.

As GoodWeave has met with success in its programs, it is now broadening them to include other concerns, such as environmental issues and adult labor conditions.  The GoodWeave label will soon mean that the rug producers are not only child labor-free, but also moving forward towards more environmentally and socially responsible practices.  Reducing child labor and improving working conditions for adult workers results in a higher value placed on the work being done and more pride and self-respect for the adults who do it.  Adults receive higher wages since they are not competing with children who earn about 1/3 of an adult wage.  It is to be hoped that this can produce an environment where the weavers are considered skilled artisans who enjoy being technically proficient and creating beauty in their work.

Please be sure to look for the GoodWeave label before purchasing a rug, and tell others about this important program, which can only succeed if we, the consumers, are aware of it!