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The President's Trip to South Asia

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Office of the Press Secretary
(New Delhi, India)

For Immediate Release March 20, 2000



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 in school;
  • $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 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 training.

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.

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