Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. We are on the side of people who are most vulnerable in trade - people whose work goes unseen and whose voices go unheard. We deliver projects in East Africa and South Asia that help poor producers and farmers develop their businesses, find markets, engage effectively in trade and adapt to changing environments as a result of climate change. We aim to support the most vulnerable groups including women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
The Souter Charitable Trust is one of Traidcraft Exchange’s most loyal supporters, with their first donation going back to 1998. They have helped us deliver many different projects including beekeeping livelihoods opportunities in Tanzania and empowering women working in the Jute industry in Bangladesh. This year their support is helping is to give a voice to Hidden Homeworkers in the garment industry in India, Pakistan and Nepal.
Homeworking in the clothing and footwear industries is almost always completely informal, irregular and insecure, paid in cash on a piece-rate. Businesses sourcing products from these countries often have no idea who is involved in making their products beyond the factories. Because they are largely invisible, homeworkers are particularly vulnerable to rights abuses, unfair pay and poor working conditions. The pressures put on women to produce large volumes of products means that whole households can become engaged in the struggle to meet punishing production targets, putting children at risk of being drawn into child labour.
We take action to ensure that female homeworkers are organized, enabled and empowered to develop a collective identity so that they can assert their rights, improve their working conditions and income and achieve recognition as significant and valuable players in the clothing and footwear supply chains.
Sadly, the lives of many of these women have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have provided them with food rations and safety kits and have worked with partners to create work for them manufacturing face masks and PPE. You can read more about our relief efforts on our blog “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of homeworkers”.