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UNICEF and apparel and footwear factories looking out for children

Released at: 14:52, 04/12/2017

UNICEF and apparel and footwear factories looking out for children

Mr Jesper Moller, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Viet Nam is speaking at the event. Photo from unicef.org

Eleven factories in Vietnam join with UNICEF in improving the wellbeing of children, working parents, and young workers.

by Doanh Doanh

UNICEF and eleven factories in Vietnam’s footwear and apparel sector launched the “Children’s Rights in the Workplace Program for Footwear and Apparel Manufacturers” last week to look specifically at improving the wellbeing of children, working parents, and young workers.

As part of the initial activities, factories will roll out the “60 Minutes Working as a Mum” awareness raising campaign, which was developed in partnership with iCare Benefits and the Purpose Group to increase awareness on breastfeeding in the workplace among workers and to encourage management to introduce policies to support breastfeeding workers.

“The footwear and apparel industry employs around 3.5 million workers in Vietnam, 80 per cent of whom are young women and most of them have migrated from rural areas to take factory jobs,” said Mr. Jesper Moller, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Vietnam. “Therefore, those businesses impact on millions of children, both directly and indirectly, through the policies and practices for their workers. I commend the participating factories for recognizing the role that they play and for committing to take action and to become new child rights advocates.”

The program is supported by UNICEF, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), and iCare Benefits. “The promotion of child rights by businesses will contribute towards the achievement of the objectives set out in the National Action Plan on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, said Mr. Tran Ngoc Liem, Deputy Director of VCCI’s Ho Chi Minh City branch.

The event brought together representatives from the business community (factories, industry associations, brands, and vendors), the government, and international and non-profit organizations to raise awareness on how businesses in the footwear and apparel sector can minimize their risks and maximize their opportunities through global guidance on respecting and supporting children’s rights. The guidance is outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and further elaborated in the Children’s Rights and Business Principles developed by UNICEF, the Global Compact and Save the Children.

Mr. Yao Cheng Wu, Director of Pou Yuen Vietnam, one of the participating manufacturers, explained at the launch that the company’s factory in Ho Chi Minh City currently employs 74,000 workers, 80 per cent of whom are women, and on average there are 400 child births every month. This means that Pou Yuen has an opportunity to make a difference and directly contribute to the well-being of more than 4,500 children each year through family-friendly workplace programs and policies.

“We have seen that businesses who use their leverage to support and promote the rights of children can have an immensely positive impact on the lives of children and become an accelerator for children’s rights” Ms. Ines Kaempfer, Executive Director of Center for Child Rights and Corporate Sustainability, said during her presentation at the launch.

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