Local Solutions for a Global Economy

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Better Brick Nepal

Program Information


Program Supporter: Humanity United
Implementing Partners:
4 Nepali NGOs, GoodWeave International

The Challenge

With the booming population growth and urbanization in Nepal, construction ranked as the third largest economic sector in the country in 2006 and continues to grow. The high demand for building materials has fueled a demand for cheap labor and a lack of incentives for clean or socially responsible brick production. The estimated 200 brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley are also the primary source of pollution in the region.

Although work conditions are inhumane, the brick industry provides jobs to thousands of unskilled laborers. Over 175,000 workers, of whom as many as 60,000 are children, labor in unhealthy and unsafe conditions in Nepal’s brick kilns. Brick workers are some of the most marginalized of unskilled workers, often bonded by debt to exploitive labor brokers, and working at wages insufficient to pay off “recruiter” advances. The informal nature of the industry, which operates on the periphery of communities and with little government oversight, has served to entrench exploitive labor practices such as bonded and child labor. The sector is dominated by migrant and seasonal laborers who live on the kilns during the brick season and have almost no link to local government, community organizations, or representation by worker associations. Unrepresented, unregulated, and for the most part unwanted, brick kiln workers have seen little progress on social, economic, or human rights issues; but with few viable income alternatives they lack the leverage to improve their working conditions or pay.

The Opportunity

The goal of Better Brick Nepal (BBN) is to address labor and environmental challenges in the brick kiln industry. While previous programs have raised awareness of these issues, BBN aims to change the incentives within the industry. BBN seeks to create a market preference for a “better brick” such that buyers of these bricks – including international agencies, construction firms and end-consumers – are assured of more ethical and high quality production. At the same time, the kilns benefit from technical assistance and access to new high value markets.

BBN started in early 2014 by building relationships with five pilot kilns that are interested in furthering the aims of the project, creating a certifiable Standard on child labor, bonded labor and decent working conditions and developing plans for kilns to comply. Participating kilns will receive technical assistance to improve working conditions, boost production efficiency and raise product quality, as well as make linkages to potential markets. Over time, the goal is for kilns that meet the BBN Standard to achieve business benefits, and to foster needed changes in the brick industry as a whole.

The Better Brick Standard

The BBN Standard (developed with leadership from GoodWeave International)

Recent Activities

PBS News Hour profiles Better Brick - Nepal

Better Brick - Nepal featured in "Nepal's earthquake: A push to rebuild without child labor"

Better Brick - Nepal featured in "How Nepal is trying to solve its blood brick problem"

"Clean Kilns" article includes Better Brick - Nepal's efforts to create child labor-free kilns

GFI Signs MoU with Federation of Contractors' Associations of Nepal (FCAN)

Mapping

Map of Better Brick - Nepal Kilns

BBN Kiln Map

Registered Brick Kilns in Nepal

Connect with the Better Brick - Nepal Local Team

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Country Director, Nepal

Feedback

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Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative

Program Information

 Program Donor: The U.S. Department of State

 Implementing Partners: Partners for Democratic Change, The Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability


Facts from the TILI National Survey on Informal Workers

The Challenge

Despite having one of the highest per capita GDPs in the region and 5% growth over the past decade, Tunisia still suffers from high unemployment and an informal sector that represents 40% of the country’s workforce. In prolonged periods of unemployment, countries risk increased numbers of informal workers, stagnation, and long-term depression. Without tackling the problems inherent in informality, Tunisia cannot make long-lasting improvements to its economic situation.

Although employment programs through the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment (MFPE) are providing skills training, internships, job placements, help in setting up small businesses, and allowances for voluntary public service, unemployment remains particularly problematic for women and young university graduates. In order to attract the businesses that will provide decent jobs for its skilled workforce and to create market opportunities for its less skilled workers to improve their livelihoods, Tunisia needs to establish a transparent system that expands registration and extends rights and protections to its entire workforce.

The Opportunity

The TILI program is rooted in the goals of the US government to help Tunisia increase stability and meet the most pressing social and economic challenges facing the country. By improving informal workers’ access to decent work and government protections, Tunisia can create a more inclusive legal and economic framework. Program objectives are to improve government’s ability to measure Tunisia’s informal sector in order to raise awareness of its contributions and conditions, including informal workers’ needs and incentives; to increase the capacity of informal workers and their representative organizations to advocate for their rights; and to increase government’s capacity to create mechanisms and policies that encourage formalization and improve services to informal workers. To achieve these objectives TILI engages stakeholders, managing delicate social and political environments to build trust and consensus, within a framework of activities and deliverables.

Program Accomplishments

Click here to review the TILI program's accomplishments.

Recent Activities

TILI Holds Kickoff Workshop on Informality to Begin Second Phase of Program

TILI Holds Conference in Tunis on Integrating the Informal Sector into the Formal Economy

GFI TILI Program Making Progress in Tunisia (Video)

GFI Holds Conference in Tunis on Integrating Informal Sector into the Formal Economy

In Review: Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative Accomplishments

GFI Releases Roadmap for Tunisian Leadership: Integrating the Informal Economy

GFI Leadership meet with Tunisian Labor Leaders

GFI Founder Karen Tramontano's article on Informality for the Council on Foreign Relations

GFI conducts TILI National Survey on Informal Workers

GFI Releases Report: Addressing Informality and Decent Work

GFI Founder, Karen Tramontano, and Board Chair, Dr. Danilo Turk, meet with Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail President Hassine Abbasi

Connect with the TILI Local Team

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Country Director, Tunisia

Feedback

We would be pleased to hear your feedback on this program. All questions and comments about the initiative can be directed This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Fairness Award

The Annual Fairness Award Ceremony is held each Fall at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC. The award ceremony honors exceptional leaders whose work and life have opened opportunity and access for the working poor throughout the world. By honoring these outstanding individuals, GFI looks to inspire a new generation of leaders to dedicate themselves to economic justice, fairness, and equality.

2014 Fairness Award

  • Mr. Robert Zoellick - President of the World Bank (2007-2012): Honoree
  • Mr. Karl-Johan Persson - President and CEO of H&M: Honoree
  • Ms. Nani Zulminarni - Founder of PEKKA, Indonesia: Honoree
  • To learn about the 2014 Fairness Award and to view the full photograph slideshow visit the 2014 Fairness Award Website at www.fairnessaward.org


    2013 Fairness Award
  • Her Excellency Tarja Halonen - President of Finland (2000-2012): Honoree
  • Susan Berresford - President of the Ford Foundation (1996-2007): Honoree
  • Zeinab Al-Momani - President of Specific Union for Women Farmers in Jordan: Honoree
  • Thank you to all of our sponsors, guests and distinguished presenters and congratulations to the 2013 Fairness Award Honorees.

    2012 Fairness Award
  • Her Excellency Joyce Banda - President of the Republic of Malawi: Honoree
  • The Honorable Melanne Verveer - Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues: Honoree
  • Ms. Lucy Kanu - Founder, Idea Builders: Honoree
  • His Excellency José María Figueres - President of Costa Rica (1994-1998): Presenter
  • The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen - US Senator for New Hampshire: Presenter
  • The Honorable John Podesta - Chair, Center for American Progress: Presenter
  • Mr. Jim Vance - Anchor, Washington's News 4: Master of Ceremonies
  • 2011 Fairness Award
  • Ms. Albina Ruiz - Founder, Ciudad Saludable: Honoree
  • His Excellency José María Figueres Olsen - President of Costa Rica (1994-1998): Presenter
  • Ms. Maureen Bunyan - Anchor, ABC7/WJLA-TV: Mistress of Ceremonies
  • 2010 Fairness Award
  • Ms. Ela Bhatt - Founder, Self Employed Women's Association of India: Honoree
  • Honorable Hillary R. Clinton - Secretary of State of the United States (2009-2013): Presenter
  • Better Factories

    Program Information

    For poor nations highly dependent on textile and garment exports, the expiration of the textile quota system (the Multi-Fiber Agreement or MFA) had the potential to be devastating to their national economies. In Cambodia, the garment industry contributed to more than 80% of Cambodia's exports before the expiration of the MFA in December 2004. However, thanks to a successful multi-stakeholder agreement lead by GFI, Cambodia was able to develop a unique advantage in the post-quota environment: a labor rights verification system administered by the International Labor Organization that provides rights protection to Cambodians and brand security to buyers.

    The Challenge

    Can Cambodia’s success story be sustained as its preferential access to lucrative markets is eliminated? Can its approach to promoting business and labor interests be reproduced in other countries? With support from the World Bank Group and the US-ASEAN Business Council, in 2004 GFI designed and implemented an engagement process to explore ways to use this uniquely just, innovative advantage to protect and expand Cambodia's textile exports. Joined by the European Commission, Australia AID, and the United Nations Development Program, in February 2005 we organized a 2-day conference of leading CEOs, government officials, and other trade and development experts to discuss Cambodia’s unique opportunities in the global marketplace. Hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the conference highlighted Cambodia’s leadership potential in defining new best practices in global trade and investment, and the many reforms aimed at making Cambodia a premier destination for business.

    The Opportunity

    In July 2005, GFI collaborated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Oxfam America to bring the discussion to American policymakers. More than 200 experts from government, industry, and civil society joined us for a wide-ranging discussion of the fate of textile workers and industries in the 21st century.

    In 2006, GFI began to extend its work on textiles to other regions of the world, focusing first on the countries participating in the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. Our efforts to make the global economy work for poor producers is helping bridge the gap between Central American industry, labor, and government, thereby increasing the prospects of better lives for workers and healthier profits for industry (see our hand-out on the Central America Work Program).

    In 2006, GFI began to extend its work on textiles to other regions of the world, focusing first on the countries participating in the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. Our efforts to make the global economy work for poor producers is helping bridge the gap between Central American industry, labor, and government, thereby increasing the prospects of better lives for workers and healthier profits for industry.

    For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Women Farmers with Global Potential



    Implementing Partner Self-Employed Women's Association

    Program Information

    For nearly a decade the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) has been a leader in providing solutions that open economic access and opportunity for working poor communities around the globe. Women represent the greatest potential for putting an end to the cycle of poverty; because of this GFI programs focus on improving business practices for peri-urban and rural women-run businesses so that they can increase profits.

    The WFGP program is a collaborative project of GFI, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), and the Brookings Insitution. It is designed to open doors to education, environmental innovations, and market access for women farmers in India. By giving women farmers the information and tools needed to run their businesses, GFI and its partners are helping to raise women and their families out of poverty.

    The Challenge

    Agriculture makes up to 60% of India’s economy. Although it comprises the vast majority of the economy, it only accounts for 19% of India’s GDP. To add to the pressures of rural workers, agricultural productivity has stagnated in recent years, resulting in a decline of farmer’s incomes. Concurrently, costs for fertilizer, seeds, land leases, and diesel continue to rise, trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of hard work with no security due to the instability of the agricultural markets.

    The majority of agricultural production is handled by women and adolescent girls. Farm work is even more demanding for women as women’s work is not traditionally recognized in policy making because, for the most part, their work remains within the informal sector, isn’t measured in real wages, and falls outside of market activity. Land rights also pose a problem for women; traditionally, land rights in India pass through a woman’s husband or to the eldest son. This also impedes their access to credit and collateral, leaving women marginalized from their local economy.

    How GFI Addressed the Challenge

    How GFI is Addressing the Challenge: Since 2008, GFI and its partners have worked hard to address the major issues facing women farmers where we are best to lend our expertise. In 2009, over 2,000 farmers received training in organic certification, business plan development, and precautionary measures to better face abrupt climate change. These trainings allow farmers to swiftly access information and address their most pressing concerns.

    The most notable achievement has been the creation of women-run Trade Facilitation Centers and later, thanks to its success, their extension to village level Trade Centers. Trade Facilitation Centers have allowed thousands of women to have a safe space to develop business plans, learn more about finance options, and discuss policy change. Of equal importance, it has given women a space to showcase their products to potential buyers and access higher paying markets.

    For more information about this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..