bangladesh garment industry
I know that global trade is critical to raising many poor families out of poverty -- as in the Bangladeshi families noted above. But the economic model I want to see more of is one where strong local economies around the world are meeting people's needs in a sustainable and healthy way.
Abject poverty and a sick father has forced Bithi's family to send their two oldest daughters to the garment factories to sew designer clothes that will be sold in shops in Canada, the United States and other high-income countries. Every day, Bithi helps create a minimum of 480 pair of pants, earning the equivalent of about $1.20.
I'm sure that many Canadians would feel a similar outrage, if asked what kinds of jobs their kids should be required to do. So on World Day Against Child Labour, World Vision is asking Canadians a simple question: if child labour is not acceptable in Canada, why should it be acceptable elsewhere?
According to an Ipsos poll, when shopping for clothes, 76 per cent of Canadians feel stress that they're paying too much for something while just 59 per cent are concerned about child labour. With the sun shining brighter every day, I plunged into my sons' closets last weekend, in search of spring clothes that would still fit them. Sitting there, sipping, I thought of another little boy, one whom I hadn't seen in a while. His name is Jewel.
As Canadian consumers, we have the power to help change the plot for the world's children. It lies in the decisions we make about our purchases. Do we contribute to keeping children trapped and enslaved, or do we make the decisions that help set them free? On the World Day Against Child Labour, we must all consider our roles in the story.
One year ago on April 24, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, crushing the life out of more than 1,100 people. The disaster prompted huge outcry on the streets of Bangladesh, and around the world. As a society of shoppers, we did demand the rock-bottom prices that helped create the demand for cheaper and cheaper labour. I've never felt more culpable than when standing in the ruins of Rana Plaza last week.
After we moved to Canada, money was still tight for my family. Hand-me-downs from friends were the new threat. Some of them fit okay, but colour was a whole other issue. Much of the light clothing had taken on a grayish tint, from being washed too often with the darks. Most of the dark clothing was faded. But I've overcome that stigma to embrace the many benefits of second hand clothing.