Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 20, 2000
HELPING TO ELIMINATE CHILD LABOR AND
IMPROVE THE LIVES OF WORKING PEOPLE IN BANGLADESH
President Clinton today announced an assistance package of over $14
million to expand upon the progress already made by the government and
the people of Bangladesh to keep children out of factories and enrolled
in school. Since 1995, approximately 9,000 children have left jobs in
garment factories to attend schools established by a U.S. funded project
of the International Labor Organization's (ILO) International Program
for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). This new joint initiative
with the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Agency for International
Development, the Government of Bangladesh, and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) will remove additional children from abusive work
and improve working conditions in Bangladesh. The initiative includes:
$8.6 million to reduce abusive child labor by removing approximately
30,000 children from hazardous industries in Bangladesh and placing them
$1.7 million for a regional project to stop trafficking of children;
$3 million to improve working conditions for women through skills
training and worker rights, and a new health insurance program for
working women in rural areas; and
$1 million to raise health and safety standards for hazardous work.
Eliminating Abusive Child Labor
The $8.6 million in child labor assistance that the President
announced today will fund additional IPEC projects targeted to
Bangladesh children involved in exploitative or hazardous industries.
Approximately 30,000 children now working in the construction, shrimp,
and leather industries, on tea plantations, as cigarette and glass
bangles makers, or as domestic servants, scavengers, transport helpers
and weavers will be able to go from work to school.
The U.S. is the world's largest contributor to IPEC, accounting for
57% of contributions last year.
Stopping the Trafficking of Children
An unknown number of children, especially girls, are trafficked each
year into exploitative work. Many end up in sexual slavery, forced
labor or domestic servitude.
The President's $1.7 million regional project will enable the ILO to
help prevent trafficking of children from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri
Lanka, while assisting in the rescue and rehabilitation of those who
fall prey to traffickers.
Improving Working Conditions for Women
Women in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment
and occupational safety and health hazards because of their
concentration in the least protected informal sectors and their lower
educational and skill levels.
Low wages, irregular payment, and lack of job security all add to the
exploitative conditions which women often face.
The President's $3 million initiative will establish a micro-health
insurance program for approximately 3 million women in rural, informal
sector jobs who traditionally have not had access to any form os $3
million initiative will establish a micro-health insurance program for
approximately 3 million women in rural, informal sector jobs who
traditionally have not had access to any form of health insurance.
Projects also will focus on improving working conditions for women,
and by working through the ILO, increase their participation and
representation in trade unions, and enhance their skills through
Raising Health and Safety Standards for Hazardous Work
The President's $1 million initiative involves a collaboration of the
U.S. Department of Labor and relevant Bangladeshi Ministries, employers,
and worker organizations to enhance health and safety standards in
hazardous occupational sectors.
Projects will address, among other things, the hazards posed by
chemicals, fumes, and dangerous machinery in the leather industry and
the risk of fire and other hazards faced by garment workers.
President Clinton's Budget for Child Labor and Core Labor Standards The
Administration's FY 2001 budget illustrates its continuing commitment to
eliminating child labor and raising core labor standards by providing:
$110 million, more than double last year's level of $45 million, to
help eliminate the scourge of child labor; and
Over $40 million to promote the implementation of core labor standards
and improve working conditions around the world.