Children employed in the cottonseed industry in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have reason to smile with the partnership between corporate giant IKEA and UNICEF expanding to include the state.
The state of Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of hybrid cotton seed and has the dubious distinction of reportedly employing 200,000 children, most of whom are girls. The baseline data of the government of Andhra Pradesh for the project area shows approximately 22,000 children out of school.
Under the recently launched project, IKEA and the German Natcom are funding UNICEF’s interventions to benefit children, especially girls, facing denial of rights in the industry. UNICEF’s Communication Chief Corinne Woods termed the new phase in the long-standing partnership as a sterling example of collaboration between corporate and development sectors.
The project objectives include promotion of an integrated, community based strategy involving government departments, community groups and children in the project area of 102 villages.
IKEA shared with UNICEF the view that child labour can only be eliminated through an integrated programmatic approach focusing on developing the whole child, through education, health and child protection interventions, supported by social mobilisation of marginalised communities towards the protection and promotion of children’s rights.
In August 2000, IKEA and UNICEF had initiated a three-year project in India focusing on the prevention and elimination of child labour in the carpet belt of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest, most populous state. IKEA has committed to continue expansion of the project to reach the maximum number of villages over the next few years.
The foray into Andhra Pradesh comes on the heel of quantitative results of the ongoing partnership in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
View the photoessay on the IKEA-UNICEF initiative in the carpet belt in Uttar Pradesh.