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Freedom Fund tackles bonded labour with renewed commitment to Southern India Hotspot

Press release
June 6, 2017

London: The Freedom Fund is pleased to announce C&A Foundation has committed a further three-year investment of €3.7m (USD$3.95m) to support work in southern India, aimed at reducing forms of bonded labour in parts of the textile sector, especially affecting girls and young women.

Since 2015, the Freedom Fund’s Southern India Hotspot has provided support to local organisations to work with businesses, local government and communities to promote safe and decent work in the textile industry and reduce bonded labour found in parts of the sector.

The Freedom Fund has carried out the program through an initial investment of €2.4m ($2.74m) from C&A Foundation, alongside other match funding.  Based on the results achieved through the hotspot program thus far,  C&A Foundation has renewed a commitment of €3.7 million ($3.95m) from July 2017 to June 2020.

The Freedom Fund expects to build on this investment by seeking additional sources of funds to expand the reach of the program.

“C&A Foundation’s commitment to strengthen protections in the textile industry will be transformative. Their continued investment in our hotspot is a powerful endorsement of the work of the Freedom Fund and its model,” said Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund. “We are thankful for their renewed support.”

The program concentrates on four districts in Tamil Nadu where a large number of adolescent girls work in cotton spinning mills.  Although the textile sector provides vital local jobs and income, many of these young employees are required to work long hours in conditions that are harmful to their health, and they are paid below minimum wages.

The Southern India Hotspot works alongside 13 local partners who are developing alternatives for adolescents and informing young workers about their workplace rights and how to get help if they face abusive conditions.

Through community support groups in 405 villages, the Freedom Fund’s partners also ensure that low income families get access to economic entitlements, and they identify and tackle local risk factors such as school dropout and poor access to transport.

“Our work with Freedom Fund until now has shown positive results,” says Brandee Butler, Head of Gender Justice and Human Rights at C&A Foundation. “But we still have a long way to go.  The new grant will sustain our previous work as well as supporting further collaboration with a wide range of brands, retailers, mill owners, unions and workers groups.  The hotspot will expand trainings inside the mills that currently reach over 4,000 young women, teaching them about rights in the workplace, assertive communication skills and basic health and safety.”

The Freedom Fund will continue to feed knowledge and learning from the hotspot into various international industry initiatives aimed at improving conditions.  Its partners will support government officials, encouraging implementation of legally-required complaints procedures in mills and registration and inspection of mill hostels.

For further details, contact:

Ginny Baumann
Senior Program Officer
The Freedom Fund
[email protected]
+44 203 077 2122

About the Freedom Fund:

The Freedom Fund is a leader in the global movement to end modern slavery. We identify and invest in the most effective frontline efforts to eradicate modern slavery in the countries and sectors where it is most prevalent. Partnering with visionary investors, governments, anti-slavery organisations and those at risk of exploitation, we tackle the systems that allow slavery to persist and thrive. Working together, we protect vulnerable populations, liberate and reintegrate those enslaved and prosecute those responsible.

About C&A Foundation

C&A Foundation, the corporate foundation of global retailer C&A, is here to transform the fashion industry. We give our partners financial support, expertise and networks so they can make the fashion industry work better for every person it touches. We do this because we believe that despite the vast and complex challenges we face, we can work together to make fashion a force for good.

Written by
The Freedom Fund