News Article | May 4, 2017
In the wake of the fourth anniversary of the tragedy in Bangladesh, ultimately the question comes up if the garment industry has changed since then and if yes, what has changed. This is a tricky question to answer as not all changes are tangible and as a reporter who has followed the developments since the and in the run-up to Rana Plaza, just saying 'I don't know, it feels like the industry has come a long way in the past four years' would not really cut it, true as it may be. For the longest time, I could not put my finger on what really has changed other than the obvious fire, safety and structural inspections, which are doubtlessly important steps. But that is not all that has changed. Rana Plaza certainly put Bangladesh and the plight of its large garment workforce on the map, true. But what really has changed was summed up in a quote I read in a recent article by the International Labour Organization (ILO) titled "Refusing to throw in the towel on factory safety in Bangladesh" about a terry towel producer and exporter on the outskirts of Dhaka. “Clients don’t just want a supplier, they prefer a partner,” explained factory owner of Towel Tex, Md Shahadat Hossain Sohel, about why it is important for him to comply with safety regulations. And that's when it struck me, the biggest change, which is not tangible - the mindset. Buyers and suppliers are on their way to becoming long-term partners, not just short-term business associates who may or may not try to pull a fast one on each other in the quest for ever cheaper garments or better deals. It is almost as if international buyers have realised that their suppliers are people too - with problems, dreams and hopes - and not an anonymous apparel-producing machine on the other end of the earth, while suppliers have realised that safety standards are not a nice-to-have but a must and that they and the costs associated with them will be absolutely worth it in the long run. “The cost of remediation work can be high, but in the overall scheme of things it is worth it. At the end of the day, it is my factory not theirs. Although buyers don’t raise their rates to account for safety improvements, I have to be the one to make sure that the workers are safe and cared for,” added Sohel. This is not to say that true partnerships have not existed before Rana Plaza - they certainly did but they have been the exception, shiny beacons of hope in a sea of cut-throat deals and ever quicker turnaround times rather than the rule. In view of a changed mindset and appreciation of lasting business contacts that bring humanity back into human relations, that is a change worth writing home about.
News Article | May 4, 2017
Governments need to take measures to protect children from harmful work in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, say the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to a guidance document published jointly by the two UN agencies, almost every country has signed international conventions to protect children, but many have not translated these agreements into national legislation.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In September 2013, armed members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked the City of Zamboanga. This resulted in a deadly stand-off with Government soldiers for 19 days. The siege displaced more than 120 000 people, including indigenous peoples and households that depend on fishing and seaweed farming for a living. Three years after the violent siege, many households in coastal communities are finally finding the courage to rebuild their livelihood and strengthen their resilience to disasters. Through the Peace Building Fund of the United Nations, FAO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have been working in Zamboanga City to provide livelihood recovery assistance to small-scale fishers and seaweed growers who were affected by armed clashes. For residents in some of the conflict-affected communities in Mindanao, the armed struggle between government forces and rebels is more than just a clash of ideologies. It is a test of their resilience. “All the people here in Zamboanga City went through poverty. We struggled. Like us here, we could not go out to sea to fish,” said Norhamblo Sagales, a fisher and the tribal chief of the Sama-Badjao ethnic group in Arena Blanco, Zamboanga, as he describes their condition of his community after the violent siege in 2013. Supporting livelihoods recovery Through the Peace Building Fund of the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO) and FAO have been working in Zamboanga City to provide livelihood recovery assistance to small-scale fishers and seaweed growers, primarily women and youth members who were affected by armed clashes. In close collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the city government, FAO distributed seaweed production start-up kits and livelihood training to around 450 seaweed farming and fishing families. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and financial institutions like KFI Center for Community Development Foundation, a microfinance institution helping local farmers and fisherfolk, also facilitated market access for the products developed by fisher households covered by the project. “They gave us what we really needed: tools for fishers like us and inputs for seaweed growers”, says Sagales. The support also included better seedling varieties. “Before, harvest was [usually done] within 30 to 40 days. Now, with better seedling varieties, we can do that in 20 to 25 days. The [livelihood] training also helped us a great deal in teaching us how to do business,” explained Baisan Nasakil from Barangay Leha-leha, Zamboanga City. Recognizing the role of women In recognition of their important role in improving household incomes, FAO also provided alternative livelihood opportunities for women. A total of 200 women from different community organizations were trained in good manufacturing practices for fish post-harvest handling and processing, preservation and value-adding of fish and related products. As a result, women now have the means and the skills to start small businesses in processed seafood. “Because of this, I learned that fish [seafood] can be prepared in many different ways like tempura, dumplings and mixed with seaweed pickles. With the help of FAO, we also became stronger in facing tragedies that come our way because we now know better how to rise again,” affirmed one of the project’s beneficiary, Hanina Maldiza from Taluksangay, Zamboanga. FAO has also been assisting the city government in building awareness on coastal fisheries and resource conservation and management. Conrado Dizon, FAO Fisheries Consultant, explains that “providing alternative sources of livelihood to people in coastal communities also reduces the burden on the fish resources as an economic fallback. Fisherfolk will no longer feel the need to resort to active fishing if there are other sustainable ways to earn.” Next Steps? With support from FAO, four women’s associations have since registered with the DTI. The formal registration enabled them to acquire labels for their products, in turn allowing them to enter into mainstream markets and formally engaging in the processing and trading of value-added fish products. Before the project closed, an additional five cooperatives were endorsed to DTI for registration and acquisition of product labels. Additional four women’s organizations, specifically engaged in seaweed farming, are now earning as traders of dried seaweed products in partnership with the KFI Center for Community Development Foundation. An additional 16 seaweed farming women’s associations were also linked with micro-financing organizations, to provide them with access to capital and other resources.
News Article | May 4, 2017
In Malawi, some 37 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are involved in labour. Most of them work in agriculture, in areas such as crop production, fisheries and livestock. Much of this work is hazardous and presents both health and safety risks for the children, who often work long hours for little or no pay. In addition to their health, labour also affects the children’s futures because it interferes with their right to receive an education. Many child labourers do not go to school or, if they do, the strenuous work makes them too tired to learn the skills they need to improve their lives. While Malawi does have policies on child labour, these deal more with industrial labour and commercial agriculture and do not adequately address child labour in subsistence agriculture and the informal economy. An FAO programme promoting “decent rural employment” in Malawi and its northern neighbour, the United Republic of Tanzania, helped raise awareness of the impact of child labour on rural development. As a result of this and related work undertaken by FAO with partners, Malawi has developed and endorsed a rich Framework for Action to prevent and reduce child labour in agriculture. Promoting “decent rural employment”, as the name implies, is about more than just creating opportunities for employment. It is about upgrading the quality of existing jobs or creating new ones that empower rural people and lead to decent levels of income and a secure and healthy working environment. A three-year FAO programme, implemented in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and launched in Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania in 2011, is working at the policy level to raise governments’awareness that providing decent rural employment will pay back in extremely important ways. As people improve their livelihoods and have more secure futures, they will also contribute to improved food security and poverty reduction, and be more able and willing to manage natural resources in a more sustainable manner. These ideas have resonated with policy-makers. In its first two years, FAO provided technical support to 36 national policies, strategies and programmes, on issues ranging from Malawi’s child labour to its National Youth Employment Creation Programme,and from the United Republic of Tanzania’s National Agriculture Policy to its Fisheries Sector Development Programme. Most of world’s poor live and work in rural areas The statistics from the rural areas of developing countries underscore the importance of focusing on decent rural employment in any effort to alleviate poverty and improve food security. Consider that rural areas of developing countries are home to 75 percent of the world’s poor, that more than half of them are aged 25 and below, that 86 percent of rural people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, that less than 20 percent of them have access to social protection and, in the majority of cases, that they work in an informal economy. Governments often fail to recognize that 60 percent of all child labour is in agriculture, mostly unpaid family labour, which is not well-covered by child-labour laws. Regulations to protect workers often focus on industry and factory workers, leaving agricultural workers with less protection. The FAO focus on decent rural employment has raised policy-makers’ awareness of the impact of child labour on a nation’s future and the importance of providing solutions for small-scale producers, trapped in a cycle of poverty and child labour. The cycle begins when poor families put their children to work instead of sending them to school. The children remain unskilled, unable to find jobs, run productive farms or start their own businesses. Less able to provide as adults, they put their own children to work to meet household needs,and the cycle of poverty continues. FAO uses Integrated Country Approach FAO uses an Integrated Country Approach (ICA) to promote decent rural employment, meaning it brings together government ministries such as agriculture and labour, but also includes farmers’ federations and unions. The goal is to have all of these stakeholders recognize the importance of – and work together to create an enabling environment for providing – decent rural employment. Through this, FAO promotes investment in children as the future pillars of the national labour force. Recognizing the multifaceted aspects of decent rural employment, FAO pulled together diverse specialists from across the Organization to address the specific needs of stakeholders and partners. Known now as the FAO Decent Rural Employment Team (DRET), experts in areas such as gender, labour rights, child labour and youth employment provide technical advice to Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania for incorporation into their policy frameworks. With support of DRET and in collaboration with the FAO Fisheries Department, Malawi has designed a new National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (2013-2018) that recognizes social development and decent work as essential to ensuring sustainable livelihoods in the fisheries sector. It also calls for a reduction in the number of child labourers engaged in hazardous work. The team provided technical support to the government in creating a corresponding implementation plan. In Malawi, the team’s work with the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture led to the endorsement of a rich Framework for Action, which marked a significant breakthrough in having the highest level of political support for broad steps to prevent and reduce child labour in agriculture.
News Article | December 6, 2016
Global CEOs on the Board of The Consumer Goods Forum continue their efforts in tackling forced labour by adopting and calling for action on "Priority Industry Principles": Every worker should have freedom of movement, no worker should pay for a job, no worker should be indebted or coerced to work The consumer goods industry, through The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), has advanced its social stewardship efforts in its bid to eradicate forced labour from global supply chains by establishing three "Priority Industry Principles" (the "Principles"). Building on momentum from the CGF's ground-breaking Forced Labour Resolution, announced earlier this year, the three Principles will help to prioritise action to address the primary drivers of forced labour within the consumer goods industry and beyond. The International Labour Organization reports that there are currently 21 million victims of forced labour in the world and the CGF Board of Directors anticipate that these newly established focus areas will inspire the entire industry, as well as others, to translate the Resolution into action. Through industry research and stakeholder consultations, the CGF has identified three of the most problematic, yet often common, employment practices across the world that can lead to cases of forced labour - especially amongst vulnerable workers. While the CGF acknowledges that these practices can have complex root causes and diverse manifestations in workplaces, the journey toward eliminating them must begin in earnest. In order to do so, the CGF developed the Priority Industry Principles, to provide further direction to counter these practices. The principles are as follows: The CGF and its members will now work to uphold these practices in their own operations, and will use their collective voice to promote the adoption of these priority principles industry-wide. As part of a 2017 action plan, members will take individual actions to mainstream the Principles with an initial focus in two supply chains of particular relevance to the industry - seafood and palm oil in Southeast Asia. The development of the Priority Industry Principles was led by the CGF Priority Industry Principles Working Group, co-chaired by Mars Incorporated, Tesco, The Coca-Cola Company and Walmart. The working group first researched a variety of globally recognised resources including the International Labour Organization Indicators of Forced Labour. Then, to complement this research, surveys were deployed to CGF member companies, external stakeholders and the general public at large. Once a draft set of principles was produced, in-depth one-on-one consultations took place with key stakeholders to finalise them. The CGF's Forced Labour Resolution, approved by the Board of Directors in January 2016, was the first industry resolution designed to tackle forced labour. It has been actively welcomed by a wide range of actors, and the CGF intends to continue its collaboration and engagement with civil society, experts and initiatives focused on tackling forced labour. Oxfam and the International Labour Organization have already put forward their support for the Priority Industry Principles, an approach the CGF hopes will be taken by other key stakeholders. "The Priority Industry Principles are an important next step in the global fight against forced labour. These principles must be mainstreamed on a global scale so that they may lead to the necessary changes needed to remove forced labour from international supply chains. We are therefore committed to supporting our members in the implementation of the Principles in their own operations and we call for their adoption across the consumer goods industry at large. No one company can tackle forced labour alone; we need to work together through cross-sector collaborations to one day soon reach a world free of forced labour". "I am delighted that the Board of The Consumer Goods Forum has resolved to confront the very complex challenge of forced labour around the world. Through the gradual adoption of the Priority Industry Principles by CGF members, in collaboration with governments, NGOs, international labour organisations and civil society, we can go a long way to eradicate this daunting reality. Global supply chains must serve local prosperity if the words 'feed the world' are to mean anything". "Oxfam welcomes the leadership shown by The Consumer Goods Forum in coalescing support around these Priority Industry Principles, to prevent forced labour entering into the cracks in global supply chains. This extreme form of labour exploitation makes it impossible for workers to access their human rights and work their way out of poverty. We hope that all members of the CGF will use the influence they have to get behind these principles and play their part in tackling this pernicious hidden issue". "The CGF's Forced Labour Resolution, approved and endorsed at the highest level of the corporate world, sends a clear message of commitment to the global fight against forced labour. Now, this commitment is turning into concrete action through the Priority Industry Principles. Big congratulations to the CGF and its members!". The Consumer Goods Forum ("CGF") is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises 54 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit: http://www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, former Prime Minister of Togo, has been appointed as the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized United Nations agency and international financial institution that invests in eradicating rural poverty in developing countries around the world. “I have come from the rural world. I have first-hand knowledge of the harshness of this kind of life,” said Houngbo, who was appointed by IFAD’s member states at the organization’s annual Governing Council meeting. Houngbo takes up the helm at a time when changing government priorities and the more immediate needs of humanitarian crises – like natural disasters, conflict and refugees – threaten to divert funding away from long-term development. With growing global demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change, investments in agriculture and rural development will be essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger. “We have to keep our ambition and at the same time be realistic and pragmatic,” he said. “We have to demonstrate that every dollar invested will have the highest value for money.” Houngbo has more than 30 years of experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management. Since 2013 he has served as Deputy Director General of the International Labour Organization, where he has been responsible for external programmes and partnerships. Prior to that, he was Assistant Secretary General, Africa Regional Director and Chief of Staff at the United Nations Development Programme. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. His candidacy was unanimously endorsed by the governments of the African Union. As someone who was born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo believes that the inequality in today’s world should never be accepted, and that IFAD has a crucial role to play in bringing opportunities to the poor and excluded. “The privilege of attaining high-quality education helped me develop a strong sense of responsibility towards improving the condition of those who have not had similar opportunities,” he wrote in answer to questions during the nomination process. “I believe that through a dynamic leadership of IFAD, I can contribute to visible change in the hardship-laden lives of the world’s rural poor.” Houngbo was among eight candidates including three women vying for the organization’s top leadership position. He succeeds Kanayo F. Nwanze, who was President for two terms beginning in April 2009. Houngbo will take office on 1 April 2017. IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 464 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub. Press release No.: IFAD/15/2017
News Article | February 22, 2017
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Citi today announced a global expansion of the Pathways to Progress initiative led by a Citi Foundation investment of $100 million to connect 500,000 young people, ages 16-24, to training and jobs over the next three years. This is the largest philanthropic commitment in the Citi Foundation’s history. Pathways launched in 2014 with a $50 million effort that helped more than 100,000 young people across 10 U.S. cities become career-ready through first jobs, internships, and leadership and entrepreneurship training. The expansion also includes a commitment to have 10,000 Citi employees volunteer to serve as mentors, coaches and role models to young people and support their career progress. Pathways to Progress aims to help reduce youth unemployment in key cities around the world and improve the quality of the youth workforce. Globally, the youth unemployment rate is three times higher than the adult unemployment rate1, which reflects a gap in the skills and networks many young people currently possess and what is required by many employers or needed to successfully launch an income-generating business. “The playing field isn’t level for all young people and Citi wants to help change that,” said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. “Mentors, internships and exposure to a variety of career opportunities help young people get a foot in the door and provide the foundation they need to thrive in their careers – those are the things Pathways to Progress helps provide to those who might not have access to them otherwise. Young people consistently say they want to pursue careers that allow them to contribute to important societal issues, and I firmly believe that matching that ambition with the skills provided through Pathways will benefit all of us when they enter the workforce.” Through the expansion of Pathways to Progress, Citi and the Citi Foundation continue to work with municipal and community leaders to help young people secure jobs, begin to engage in the formal economy, and contribute positively to their cities. $50 million will be invested in the U.S. in cities including Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington DC and $50 million will be invested internationally in cities including Beijing, Casablanca, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Mumbai, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Warsaw, with a target to reach 500,000 young people globally. Select programming includes: “The constant urban demographic pressure at the level of the Grand Casablanca presents many challenges for all city dwellers, especially youth,” said Casablanca Mayor Abdelaziz El Omari. “To tackle this the city of Casablanca, has opted for smart urbanization based on an innovative strategy that links economic, political and social development and allows for the integration of technologies. To achieve this ambition, Casablanca boasts an original, participatory modus operandi in which youth, citizens, companies and local actors are invited to contribute to nurture the future of the city. We strongly believe that the Pathways to Progress program launched by the Citi Foundation aligns perfectly with our vision.” "The City of Madrid is delighted to collaborate with Citi Foundation and IESE Business School, within Citi’s Pathways to Progress program, to support entrepreneurship in the city of Madrid,” said Roberto Sanchez, General Manager of Innovation and City Promotion, Madrid. “Thanks to the projects which encompass four years of collaboration, we have helped many entrepreneurship projects to internationalize, innovate, grow and thus create economic wealth for our community." “With the rising youth unemployment rates globally, it’s imperative to help the youth build up their confidence and cultivate their leadership skills and competitiveness,” said Dr. Tien-Mu Huang, Vice Chairman, Financial Supervisory Commission, Republic of China (Taiwan). “The Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative not only helps disadvantaged youth get access to education and employment opportunities, but also utilizes Citi’s expertise and its people to mentor young people to discover their talents and realize their full potential for greater social impact. This has set a great example of social responsibility for corporates.” “This new commitment by the Citi Foundation will help organizations like Junior Achievement test and scale programming that helps more young people globally build a platform for their future success,” said Asheesh Advani, President and CEO, JA Worldwide. “We engage over 2,000 Citi volunteers each year who help deliver critical employability skills programming to millions of youth around the globe. Ensuring that young people do not get left behind is crucial to what we do and is what drives our work.” In the U.S., Pathways to Progress supported programming in 10 U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. Through the Foundation’s initial $50 million initiative, our impact includes: "Young people in Miami deserve the champions that match their optimism, diverse aspirations, and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. “Our work with the Citi Foundation has given us the ability to provide more opportunities, including summer jobs that invest in the economic health of our young people teaching them financial empowerment skills which long-term improve, our city, and our country.” “Through vital partnerships with the private sector, we are helping create more lasting foundational, career building opportunities for young people in St. Louis,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “Pathways to Progress was instrumental in helping us expand our STL Youth Jobs summer employment program, and with this new commitment this year, we look forward to helping empower even more of our future leaders.” In conjunction with the expanded Pathways to Progress investment, the Citi Foundation is also releasing the results of a survey of young people that will help inform the focus of its programs and partnerships. The study, conducted by Ipsos, found that despite political, economic, and social upheaval, young people around the world are optimistic about their career prospects, but face the reality of limited skills and opportunities. The global youth survey polled more than 7,000 young people ages 18-24 in 45 cities across 32 countries on all the continents except Antarctica between November 2016 and January 2017. “Youth labor markets are evolving rapidly, so are the aspirations and optimism of young women and men who are entering the labor market every day and are confronted by unemployment and/or low quality jobs”, said Azita Berar Awad, Director of the Employment Policy Department at the International Labour Organization. “Channeling the voices of youth from cities across the world, the Citi Foundation’s Global Youth Survey 2017 offers important insights on youth’s perceptions, calling for improved and coordinated action, because when young people have decent work, everyone benefits and our future is more prosperous.” “The Citi Foundation’s 2017 Global Youth Survey offers a fresh perspective on young people, a group that is often easily overlooked in political and economic discourse,” said Michael Rose AM, Chairman of The Committee for Sydney. “The results convey both optimism and concern: young people in Sydney are aspirational about their ability to succeed, but concerned about their career opportunities. The Committee for Sydney is passionate about promoting opportunities for young people, creating effective future leaders and ensuring that the city is a place for all to live and work. We look forward to taking these insights and working across sectors with partners like the Citi Foundation to ensure we match aspirations of today’s youth with opportunities for success.” “This new research will help us identify where we can best continue to invest our efforts to bridge the gap between the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people and the challenges they face,” said Andrew Devenport, CEO of Youth Business International. “Citi Foundation’s new commitment demonstrates the “all in” mentality we need if we are going to truly tackle youth unemployment and drive sustainable economic development in Europe and around the world.” For more information about Pathways to Progress and the study visit CitiFoundation.com. Follow @Citi on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and use the hashtag #Pathways2Progress to view more insights from the research and join the discussion with those interested in youth empowerment. Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
News Article | December 7, 2016
Decent, salaried jobs in developing countries are rarely an option for people with disabilities, according to a new white paper, Situation of wage employment for people with disabilities: ten developing countries in focus. The result is that people with disabilities are denied one of their fundamental rights—the right to employment. Over the past six months, Handicap International researchers examined 24 of the 30 developing countries where the international NGO runs inclusive livelihoods projects, and then put ten countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia under the microscope to determine if people with disabilities are landing decent, freely chosen jobs. The findings are stark. “Individuals with disabilities are being systematically excluded from the opportunity to earn a living wage,” said Herve Bernard, head of the inclusion unit for Handicap International. “If they do land jobs, they almost always earn less money than their colleagues without disabilities. Exclusion of people with disabilities from work is simply unacceptable.” Handicap International produced the paper for the first annual Harkin International Disability Employment Summit, which takes place Dec. 8 and 9, in Washington, DC. The Summit, hosted by Senator Tom Harkin (Ret.), gathers more than 180 government officials, professionals with disabilities, business and civil society leaders, and activists from 30 countries to shine light on effective laws, policies and programs, and to find ways to create more job opportunities for people with disabilities. Handicap International is a member of the Harkin Summit planning committee, which includes The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University, Association of University Centers On Disabilities, School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at University of Massachusetts (Boston), Poses Family Foundation, United States Business Leadership Network, and United States International Council on Disabilities. “The Harkin Summit is the first time we’ve brought so many global stakeholders together to focus exclusively on making workplaces more inclusive to people with disabilities,” said Bernard. “It’s paramount that we work together to help people with disabilities secure decent jobs, wherever they happen to live.” People with disabilities account for 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, according to the World Report on Disability. Eighty percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. Yet good data on disability are hard to come by. Of the 24 countries surveyed, only China, Egypt, the Philippines, and Senegal devote a section of their national census to measuring employment rates of people with disabilities. The result is a murky understanding of the true economic impact of their exclusion. Globally, fewer than 20% of people with disabilities are working, according to the International Labour Organization. This exclusion stems from a wide variety of barriers, including physical and structural barriers at work, and high levels of discrimination in regard to their ability to work. Also, too few schools and training centers welcome students with disabilities, hindering their job readiness. Stereotypes about people with disabilities permeate the labor markets in developing countries. The paper notes that in West Africa, government representatives and senior business leaders said that if they did hire someone with a disability, they were motivated first by pity, and second by someone’s professional qualifications. Such discrimination not only denies people from a chance to support themselves and their families, but also to socialize with colleagues in a workplace. There are strong links between disability and poverty. Most jobs for people with disabilities in the study were in the informal sector, and wages are far lower for people with disabilities. Tunisians with disabilities, for instance, were earning 40% less than their people who didn’t have a disability, according to the paper. And in Colombia, a law states that companies cannot pay people with disabilities less than 50% of the minimum wage in sheltered workshops. The wage gap in formal sectors also worsened for women with disabilities. The paper found room for hope. Some local stakeholders, corporations, and service providers have established good policies and initiatives to provide more opportunities to people with disabilities. The ten-year-old United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, now ratified by 168 states, or three-quarters of the world’s nations, is giving people with disabilities more access to their basic human rights than ever before. “This paper will be the first piece of a more comprehensive data set and bank of best practices, so that more individuals with disabilities can enjoy decent work worldwide,” added Bernard. About Handicap International Handicap International is an independent international aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict, and disaster for nearly 35 years. Alongside people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, the organization's action and testimony are focused on responding to essential needs, improving living conditions, and promoting respect for dignity, and basic rights. Since its founding, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Genetic markers for regional cultivars persist in cotton fibers and can be detected in our proprietary assay STONY BROOK, NY--(Marketwired - February 27, 2017) - Applied DNA Sciences, Inc. ("Applied DNA," "The Company,") ( : APDN), a provider of DNA-based supply chain, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology, product genotyping and product authentication solutions, announced today that it has identified lead genetic markers that are unique to certain cotton cultivars grown in Uzbekistan, where forced human labor is used to cultivate the cotton. To date, the biomarkers have been tested in raw and ginned cotton. The testing of yarn and finished textiles is forthcoming. Applied DNA is looking for partners to aid in halting forced labor in cotton fields, while facilitating a global collaboration in identifying and highlighting Uzbek cottons that are harvested by modern machinery specifically without forced labor. The Company offers a molecular tagging and authentication service to brands and retailers who want to exclude adulteration by forensically proving the origin of their cotton. The platform is based on a unique molecular tag, known as "SigNature® T", applied at the point where locally grown cotton is ginned, and forensically authenticated at each stage of the supply chain to allow traceability for fibers to finished goods back to their origin. To date, multiple brands and retailers have SigNature T-tagged over 150 million pounds of US-grown cotton. Applied DNA proposes that machine harvesting and modern ginning be introduced to the Uzbek cotton industry as soon as possible, perhaps funded by governments, NGOs and the global cotton industry. Molecular markers supplied by the company could ensure that every relevant fiber is recognizable as free of forced labor. In collaboration with leaders within the cotton industry and cotton research, Uzbek cotton fibers could be introduced to the global market as a superior upland cotton, untainted by ethical compromise. Said Dr. James Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA: "Even if a retailer's brand were surreptitiously adulterated with Uzbek cotton, the damage to their equity would be irreparable. When combined with a program of molecular tagging at the source, our products and services can de-risk supply chains for every cotton retailer, brand and manufacturer." According to the Cotton Campaign, every year the Uzbek government forces more than a million Uzbek citizens -- including teachers, doctors and nurses -- to work long hours picking cotton for state-run industries under threat of penalties, including loss of their jobs or education. The government of Uzbekistan operates the largest forced-labor system of cotton production in the world. There is no region in Uzbekistan excluded from this system, so no Uzbek cotton is free from forced labor. Kirill Boychenko, Coordinator of the Cotton Campaign at the International Labor Rights Forum, stated: "DNA technology can help businesses and regulators enhance traceability and transparency in global supply chains. Applied DNA's advances in molecular tagging and cotton genotyping can provide technical guidance on cotton produced with forced labor from countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan that can then be used by brands, retailers, supply chain intermediaries and law enforcement to ensure responsible sourcing." More than 250 brands and retailers have signed, "The Cotton Pledge," promising not to knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan. Growing consciousness of unethically-produced cotton among consumers is apparent in the results of a recent Harris Poll: roughly three in five Americans (61%) say if they discovered a brand made their bedding/clothing products from raw cotton that was picked by child/forced laborers, they would no longer purchase from that brand. The United States recognizes Uzbek cotton as a product made with forced labor and has stopped goods made with Uzbek cotton at the border under a law prohibiting import of goods made with forced labor. The California Transparency in Supply Chain Act requires businesses to report their efforts to combat forced labor in their supply chains. The Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom requires businesses that trade in at least £36 million in goods a year to report what steps, if any, they are taking to address forced labor in their supply chains. Until today, however, there has been no mechanism to discriminate fibers of Uzbek origin. Andrew Wallis, OBE, the catalyst behind the Modern Slavery Act, and Founder and CEO of Unseen, a UK charity that works towards a world without forced labor stated: "The innovative use of technology by Applied DNA Sciences to tackling some of the world's most complex problems -- transparency in supply chains and modern forced-labor abuses -- is to be applauded." Earlier this month, the French Parliament adopted a much-awaited law, which applies only to French companies, enforcing a "public vigilance" for corporations of their supply chains, for human rights and the environment. Similar laws are under consideration in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Uzbekistan is one of the largest exporters of cotton; sixth in the global economy. The countries that import the largest quantities of Uzbek cotton are also the countries that rank among the largest suppliers of finished textiles to the USA and UK, such as Bangladesh and China. Hidden labor rights abuses in global supply chains are increasingly being scrutinized by consumers, governments and intergovernmental organizations. It can be challenging for global brands to determine potential risks at every stage of the complex supply chains inherent in goods produced with cotton. This new technology offers companies aiming to minimize risk an opportunity for ensuring cotton made with forced labor from Uzbekistan does not slip into the goods they buy and produce. Recently, in a report submitted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations Agency, to the World Bank, third-party observations made clear that progress against forced labor in Uzbekistan is making significant strides. Uzbekistan has phased-out organized child labor, and the "risk has been reduced to the point where child labour (sic) has become socially unacceptable." However, forced labor does remain a risk for higher-level students, the staff of public and private agencies, and the staff of medical facilities. We make life real and safe by providing botanical-DNA based security and authentication solutions and services that can help protect products, brands, entire supply chains, and intellectual property of companies, governments and consumers from theft, counterfeiting, fraud and diversion. Our patented DNA-based solutions can be used to identify, tag, track, and trace products, to help assure authenticity, traceability and quality of products. SigNature® DNA describes the platform ingredient that is at the heart of a family of uncopyable, security and authentication solutions such as SigNature® T and fiberTyping®, targeted toward textiles and apparel, DNAnet®, for anti-theft and loss prevention, and digitalDNA®, providing powerful track and trace. All provide a forensic chain of evidence, and can be used to prosecute perpetrators. We are also engaged in the large-scale production of specific DNA sequences using the polymerase chain reaction. Go to adnas.com for more information, events and to learn more about how Applied DNA Sciences makes life real and safe. Common stock listed on NASDAQ under the symbol APDN, and warrants are listed under the symbol APDNW. The statements made by APDN in this press release may be "forward-looking" in nature within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements describe APDN's future plans, projections, strategies and expectations, and are based on assumptions and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of APDN. Actual results could differ materially from those projected due to our short operating history, limited financial resources, limited market acceptance, market competition and various other factors detailed from time to time in APDN's SEC reports and filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on December 6, 2016, and our subsequent quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed on February 9, 2017, which are available at www.sec.gov. APDN undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events or circumstances after the date hereof to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, unless otherwise required by law.
News Article | February 15, 2017
In the darkened corners of any town USA, there's an atrocity taking place that many people rarely acknowledge: human trafficking. It's prevalent, has destroyed millions of lives, and often unfolds closer to home than most think. The initiative N2GIVES supports organizations that fight this horrific reality, while restoring hope for those affected. The idea for N2GIVES came naturally for conceptualists Duane Hixon and Earl Seals. The founders of N2 Publishing – which produces more than 900 community magazines for neighborhoods around the country – Hixon and Seals long ago made "giving back" a core principle in the company's mission. Realizing the rampant damage caused by human trafficking, they decided to add this focus to N2's philanthropic efforts. "Our goal is to be really good at private business, so we can support people who are really good at running nonprofits," Hixon said. "These nonprofits have to spend so much money and time just to raise funds to keep their doors open. We want them to focus on what they're good at, which is fighting for the cause." According to the International Labour Organization, the human trafficking problem is big and growing each year. Recent studies estimate there are 20.9 million victims globally. Of this number, 68% of them are trapped in forced labor; 26% of them are children; and 55% are women and girls. While there is no official estimate on the number of victims in the United States, it's happening in cities – big and small – across the nation. N2, headquartered in Wilmington, NC, first got involved in the fight upon realizing that human trafficking existed in its own small coastal town. The company replaced its initial shock with the desire to do something about it – and fast. Hixon contacted a local nonprofit called A Safe Place and asked how his company could help. In getting to know the people who ran the organization, he found out about Patricia. She was a trafficking survivor, who had gone to school to become a social worker and now wanted to work at A Safe Place. There was one problem: The nonprofit could not afford to hire her. N2 stepped in, donating enough money to cover her salary. Earlier this month, N2 Publishing announced the 36 non-profit recipients of the more than $2 million the company is donating as a part of its N2GIVES initiative. As N2 grows, Hixon and Seals said so will the amount of their annual donations. "It's heartbreaking to hear about people with no voice," Hixon said. "To be able to help them, that is so fulfilling." For a full list of the recipients, visit http://www.n2gives.com/. About N2 Publishing Based in Wilmington, N.C., N2 Publishing, Inc. is "turning neighborhoods into communities" by partnering with affluent neighborhoods to produce private, monthly publications filled with resident-contributed content. Every N2 issue is personal, relevant, and unique to the community it serves. Visit N2 Publishing online at http://www.n2pub.com.