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The Freedom Fund partners with retail industry to tackle forced labour in southern India

Press release
March 5, 2015

C&A Foundation makes an initial US$2.7 million investment for an integrated community and industry strategy to address forced and bonded labour in the apparel industry.

London: 5 March 2015 – The Freedom Fund, the world’s first private donor fund dedicated to ending modern slavery, is pleased to announce the creation of its third hotspot, focused on the eradication of forced and bonded labour in the textile industry in Tamil Nadu, southern India.

This targeted intervention was made possible through a two-year, EUR 2.4 million (USD 2.74m) investment made by C&A Foundation, as part of a new partnership with the Freedom Fund.

“This investment marks a significant step for the Freedom Fund, as C&A Foundation is the first industry partner to specifically support a Freedom Fund hotspot to prevent forced and bonded labour especially of women and girls within the textile industry in Tamil Nadu,” said Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund.

In Tamil Nadu, many young workers, and primarily women and adolescent girls from vulnerable communities, are lured into conditions of forced and bonded labor by false promises of decent wages and safe accommodation.   Fraudulent labour brokers operate with impunity, and most survivors do not access sufficient support for recovery or learning new skills.  Meanwhile, efforts by international retailers to improve worker protection have generally not yet reached beyond their immediate suppliers.

The Freedom Fund will work with local organisations to tackle these issues by strengthening community structures to address the root causes of vulnerability.  This includes activities to promote education, training, and income generation opportunities for survivors and families at greatest risk.  The Fund will also work to improve workers’ rights and protections  through government engagement and joint action with unions,  local garment factories and textile mills, and international retailers.

“C&A Foundation hopes other local and international partners including other brands and retailers will join the partnership, in order to support the Tamil Nadu hotspot and effectively drive changes that result in greater freedoms for workers throughout the apparel supply chain.” said Brandee Butler, Head of Partnerships & Innovation at C&A Foundation.

“Transformation in this industry can be most effectively achieved through partnerships with the community and with leading retailers and brands. We look forward to expanding this partnership so that workers supporting the retail industry have one of their most important fundamental rights secured: their freedom.” said Nick Grono.

For more information about the Tamil Nadu hotspot click here.

About the Freedom Fund
The Freedom Fund is a new philanthropic initiative designed to bring much-needed financial resources and strategic focus to the fight against modern slavery. With an expert team and global perspective, the Freedom Fund aims to raise $100 million by 2020 for smart anti-slavery investments in the countries and sectors where it is most needed.

Its approach is to focus on hotspots—defined geographic regions with a high concentration of slavery—and target resources to frontline organisations closest to the problem.

Its country-based experts visit high-risk areas to identify the grassroots partners and systemic initiatives that are having the biggest impact in protecting those at risk from slavery, enabling liberation and recovery of those already enslaved, and bringing those responsible to justice. It works closely with partners to help them improve their results and rigorously measure their outcomes.

About C&A Foundation
C&A Foundation is a private foundation that aspires to a fair and sustainable apparel industry in which everyone can thrive.  The foundation works to address the deeply-rooted challenges of the sector by supporting and driving initiatives, and partnering with key stakeholders to maximise results.  The affiliation with C&A, a leading global clothing retailer, allows the foundation to test, replicate and scale programmes that can help the apparel industry become a force for greater good.

C&A Foundation is committed to addressing the root causes of forced and bonded labour in the apparel industry and works on multiple levels to create conditions for sustained improvements in industry labor practices.

C&A Foundation
Stephanie Klotz
Communication Manager
[email protected]

The Freedom Fund
Laura Harrington
[email protected]
+44  203 077 2222
Twitter: @Freedom_Fund

Written by
The Freedom Fund