Supporting ETI to Address Exploitative Practices of Young Women Workers in Tamil Nadu

Recently, Aidenvironment performed a mid-term evaluation of the Ethical Trading Initiative’s multi-stakeholder initiative in Tamil Nadu (TNMS). The TNMS program aims to contribute to the elimination of exploitative practices of young women workers in the garment and textile industry in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Violations of human and worker’s rights in the textile and garment sector in Tamil Nadu have been frequent and severe, including exposure to health and safety risks, bonded labor and modern slavery (e.g. the Sumangali scheme), excessive working hours, and unpaid overtime. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) designed a five-year program to combat these practices, especially in spinning mills. Being an industry initiative, ETI managed to gain access to spinning mills from which other initiatives have often been excluded. The TNMS program has three main components:

  1. Strengthening the ability of women workers and local employers to address issues together. ETI is training women workers in spinning mills and garment factories on health issues and workers’ rights and is working to create open communication between workers and managers.
  2. Raising awareness in recruitment communities. Local NGO partners are working with communities where young women workers are recruited, informing them about the reality of working in mills, labor conditions, and workers’ rights. Local recruitment agents are also targeted, ensuring that recruiters provide correct information about wages, working hours, benefits, and leave.
  3. Driving change in recruitment practices and policies. ETI is engaging with industry associations to strengthen laws and policies, to protect worker rights, and to provide access to remedy. ETI works to reduce the length of apprenticeships from three years to a maximum of six months.

How did Aidenvironment help?
Aidenvironment performed a mid-term evaluation of the program, assessing observed progress against set objectives. Aidenvironment took a qualitative approach: we visited spinning mills and garment factories in Tamil Nadu, conducted focus group discussions with young women workers and community members, and conducted interviews with key stakeholders (such as internationally operating companies).

ETI will use the results of the mid-term evaluation to improve program implementation, communication, and planning.

For more information, please contact Martine van Schaik.