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New UNICEF, NBIM guidance to help businesses prioritize child rights in global supply chains

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As the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens livelihoods across the globe, newly released guidance supports companies to improve their impact on children in the garment and footwear supply chain.

Female Workers in Pro Kingtex Factory, a textile factory located inside Pou Yuen industrial zone, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Only 24 per cent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Viet Nam, and only 22 per cent are breastfed until two years. These rates are likely to be lower among factory workers, who typically wean their babies early, replacing the breast milk with formula due to concerns and uncertainty about their ability to breastfeed once they are back to work in the factory after maternity leave. Photo: UNICEF UN0215795 / Truong Viet Hung
Female Workers in Pro Kingtex Factory, a textile factory located inside Pou Yuen industrial zone, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Only 24 per cent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Viet Nam, and only 22 per cent are breastfed until two years. These rates are likely to be lower among factory workers, who typically wean their babies early, replacing the breast milk with formula due to concerns and uncertainty about their ability to breastfeed once they are back to work in the factory after maternity leave. Photo: UNICEF UN0215795 / Truong Viet Hung

GENEVA, 10 June 2020 – A new guidance released today by UNICEF and Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) will help clothing and footwear companies better address children’s rights in their global supply chains 

Download the guidance tool on children’s rights in the garment and footwear sector here and the UNICEF/NBIM partnership summary report here. 

Released ahead of World Day Against Child Labour, the guidance tool is the result of a partnership between UNICEF and NBIM, which manages the assets of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global. It involved leading apparel and footwear companies including Adidas, H&M and VF Corporation. 

– As the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten the livelihoods of millions of workers in global supply chains, children’s rights must be at the heart of business action, said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka. – We have an opportunity to re-imagine the post-COVID world and build a better garment and footwear sector that supports the right of every child. 

The guidance tool provides practical steps for companies to embed children’s rights in their sustainability strategies and approaches. It calls on companiestogather evidence on how children are impacted; identify bottlenecks; and take proactive steps to integrate children’s rights into their supply chain management systems.It also includes specific metrics, which support the measurement of and reporting on children’s rights outcomes over time. 

More specifically, the guidance calls on companies to: 

  • Assess child rights risks and business preparedness to address them; 
  • Integrate child rights into policies and management systems; 
  • Get internal buy-in and engage key decision-makers; 
  • Strengthen supplier capacity to address child rights and root causes; 
  • Monitor and measure outcomes and progress; 
  • Engage stakeholders, workers and implement grievance processes;
  • Report on outcomes and progress; 
  • Collaborate and invest in multi-stakeholder initiatives; 
  • Support governments and advocate for children’s rights. 

– At Norges Bank Investment Management, we see respect for children’s rights as an inherent part of good business practice and risk management, said NBIM Chief Corporate Governance Officer Carine Smith Ihenacho. – Children must be at the heart of companies’ sustainability efforts as they are among the most vulnerable members of society and the basis for future prosperity.It is our hope that the guidance tool and our partnership with UNICEF will contribute to improved market practices and greater respect for children’s rights across the sector.

Notes to editors:

The guidance is accompanied by a summary report that outlines activities led by UNICEF and NBIM since 2017 to encourage responsible business practices for children in the garment and footwear sector. The report identifies root causes that lead to negative consequences for children and opportunities for action – highlighting the critical role of governments, businesses and financial investors. 

 

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Contacts

For further information, please contact:

Sohini Roychowdhury, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41 79 533 5264, sroychowdhury@unicef.org

Images

Female Workers in Pro Kingtex Factory, a textile factory located inside Pou Yuen industrial zone, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Only 24 per cent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Viet Nam, and only 22 per cent are breastfed until two years. These rates are likely to be lower among factory workers, who typically wean their babies early, replacing the breast milk with formula due to concerns and uncertainty about their ability to breastfeed once they are back to work in the factory after maternity leave. Photo: UNICEF UN0215795 / Truong Viet Hung
Female Workers in Pro Kingtex Factory, a textile factory located inside Pou Yuen industrial zone, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Only 24 per cent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Viet Nam, and only 22 per cent are breastfed until two years. These rates are likely to be lower among factory workers, who typically wean their babies early, replacing the breast milk with formula due to concerns and uncertainty about their ability to breastfeed once they are back to work in the factory after maternity leave. Photo: UNICEF UN0215795 / Truong Viet Hung
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Jamal Hossain, 26, a cutter at the Northern Tosrifa Group garment factory, poses for a portrait with his daughter, Jui, 30 months, in Gazipur, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh on 6 December 2018. The knowledge and awareness of parents about child care and care in Bangladesh is limited, including the way a child experiences the primary stage of life and how it plays a major role in creating a prosperous future. However, thanks to an in-factory day care centre provided by the Northern Tosrifa Group — and supported by UNICEF through partner organization Phulki — Jui is cared for throughout her parents’ workday. "We make about 20,000 taka (USD 238) between us per month. Paying for child care would cost at least 5,000 taka (USD 60), which is the difference between being able to save for the future, and not," Jamal says of his family, which includes his wife, Shumi Akhter, who also works at the factory. Photo: UNICEF UN0292143 / Brian Sokol
Jamal Hossain, 26, a cutter at the Northern Tosrifa Group garment factory, poses for a portrait with his daughter, Jui, 30 months, in Gazipur, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh on 6 December 2018. The knowledge and awareness of parents about child care and care in Bangladesh is limited, including the way a child experiences the primary stage of life and how it plays a major role in creating a prosperous future. However, thanks to an in-factory day care centre provided by the Northern Tosrifa Group — and supported by UNICEF through partner organization Phulki — Jui is cared for throughout her parents’ workday. "We make about 20,000 taka (USD 238) between us per month. Paying for child care would cost at least 5,000 taka (USD 60), which is the difference between being able to save for the future, and not," Jamal says of his family, which includes his wife, Shumi Akhter, who also works at the factory. Photo: UNICEF UN0292143 / Brian Sokol
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