This article was first published on Natural Paving
Children should be entitled to freedom, an education and the opportunity to live out their dreams. Sadly, this is not always the case, for many child workers in Indian stone quarries a life of bonded labour, exploitation and suffering is far more likely.
Here at Natural Paving Products we pride ourselves on the ethically sourced stone we supply, because we know those mining it receive a fair wage and aren’t underage. However with The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report recently putting the number of child labourers in India at some 10 per cent of the total labour forcewe decided we needed to do more to make a lasting positive impact in the areas we operate.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2014, to improve the lives of Indian children near our quarries. Kailash has worked tirelessly throughout his career to eradicate child exploitation and promote child rights. He’s the founder of New Delhi-based NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) an organization helping all those stricken by these damaging circumstances. Together we’re partnering with the BBA to fund 10 new child friendly villages as part of its ‘Bal Mitra Gram’ programme.
These child friendly villages, set up by the BBA, ensure every child up to the age of 14 gets a quality education and there is a community ban on all child labour and child marriage. We’ve also opened a new state-of-the-art factory, which will provide further job opportunities to local people. The ‘Bal Mitra Gram’ programme was recently launched at the factory and attended by over 2000 people.
As members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) we already employ local people and pay fare wages. Nevertheless we wanted to do more to make a lasting positive impact in the areas we operate – Kailash’s work was the perfect opportunity to be part of a bigger initiative that is transforming the lives of rural Indian communities
Kailash commented: “It’s great to be working with a company that takes its ethical responsibilities so seriously. Child exploitation is a massive problem in rural India and I’m keen to work with more companies to see an end to this injustice. Natural Paving Products is already doing so much to support rural communities with its investment into a new factory, but now with its further support of the child friendly village programme, it is also part of the solution to our child labour problem.”