A Helping Hand? Eliminating Child Labor in Bangladesh's Garment Industry

Abstract

This case study reviews what happens when an apparently “good” idea in one country comes with serious consequences for real-world participants on the other side of the globe. Few in the West would say that children, especially those as young as 8, should be working in factories for up to 20 hours per day. But the sudden imposition and enforcement of child labor laws prohibiting children from earning wages in Bangladesh's garment industry cost more than 50,000 children their jobs. In response, a novel coalition formed, comprised of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), to create an alternative education system for unemployed child garment workers. As this study explains, the results were critical in designing other programs to address the issue of child labor worldwide.

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