THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(New Delhi, India)
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 in
- $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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.