Nina Smith has been thinking about social justice since she was eight years old. It’s natural that today she is working to end child labor.
You might think that child labor is a thing of the past, relegated to black and white pictures from the 1940s. Unfortunate for millions of children around the world, that is not true. According to the Global Slavery Index, 45.8 million people are enslaved in the world today. In the handmade carpet industry alone there are nearly a quarter of a million children who are being exploited.
Nina Smith grew up in a Jewish household, where her grandmother taught her the Jewish tradition of tzedakah, or social justice. As an eight-year-old, she was first introduced to her cousin Mark. She was told by her mother and grandmother that Mark would tell her and her sister a story. The story, as it turns out, was the story of the holocaust. “That was the first time I understood about the injustices in the world,” she told me.
Nina sees echoes of this injustice in the lives of modern-day slaves. “Very much my childhood influenced the way that I respond to this kind of thing now. People all over the world knew it was happening, the information was there, but people didn’t act soon enough or strongly enough.” She said of child labor, “It’s touching every one of us through the products that we buy.”
GoodWeave is transforming the rug industry by certifying child-labor-free rugs. To earn the GoodWeave label, manufacturers must meet certifications standards. They must also agree to random, independent inspections.
GoodWeave has freed more than 3,700 children from slave labor. They have reduced child labor by 80% in the handmade carpet industry of South Asia. Children who are rescued, are offered schooling and other basic needs. GoodWeave also prevents child labor by providing opportunities to at-risk children.
GoodWeave is expanding their market-based approach to eliminating child labor to new sectors such as apparel, home textiles and agricultural products.
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- GoodWeave International: http://goodweave.org
- Global Slavery Index: http://www.globalslaveryindex.org
- Target – GoodWeave partnership announcement: https://corporate.target.com/article/2015/09/good-weave-partnership
- Macy’s – GoodWeave partnership announcement: https://macysinc.com/social-responsibility/socially-responsible-products/default.aspx