Better business for children

Children’s rights are everybody’s business

Mother and child
UNICEF Bangladesh/2018/Mawa

The challenge

Children are a critical stakeholder to all businesses whether as children of employees, employees themselves or as current and future consumers of business products and services.

Despite this, many businesses are yet to fully understand the link between their operations and children’s rights.

Child labour is only one example of how businesses can impact on children’s rights. There’s a whole range of indirect impacts where progress is needed.

For example, businesses can do more to provide maternity rights, breastfeeding support and find out more ways to support working women in balancing their responsibilities as a mother with that of being a worker.

The readymade garment (RMG) sector played a pivotal role for Bangladesh’s stunning economic growth. The sector employs more than three million people, approximately 60 per cent of whom are women. RMG exports contribute 7 per cent in annual GDP and reductions in poverty.

These developments are however changing Bangladesh’s population. Of the 160 million living in Bangladesh, about one third now live in urban areas.

Employment opportunities have been changing family structure. It is one of the reasons why people migrate to the cities, sometimes leaving behind children and other family members back home in the villages.

Despite relatively robust legislation, there is low awareness among working women on maternity and breastfeeding rights. Available policy lacks pragmatic approach to protecting a vital part of the country’s workforce.

Garment factory workers in Dhaka's Mirpur
UNICEF/UNI142682/Noorani
Women garment factory workers sit in the five-by-eleven-foot living quarters they share in Dhaka's Mirpur area. They left their home villages in Dinajpur District, in northern Bangladesh, to live near the garment factories where they work.

Many workers are living in densely populated urban centres where access to basic services is a daily challenge. This challenge is further worsened by relatively low income

Many enlightened businesses are working to improve the inner atmosphere for their workers, but need to do more in order to improve the lives of their workers in the communities.

Whence there has been improvement in export-oriented businesses, the extent to which similar progress has been occurring in domestic sectors is relatively unknown.

Despite being among the 50 major tea growing nations, the workers of these plantations lack access to basic services. The children living in these tea garden communities, usually marginalised ethnic minorities, are among the most vulnerable in Bangladesh.  

The aid of basic services for these people must also come from their employers, whose operations have an impact on the rights of children and their development.

If the link between work activities and child rights is established, businesses in Bangladesh can not only be a driving force in creating a better world for children but can also reap the many rewards of having family-friendly policies.

The solution

Child-friendly principles aren’t just good for children, they’re good for business

CSR flow

The Better Business for Children or garments manufacturers is a six-step programme.

 


The Children’s Rights and Business Principles were developed by UNICEF in 2012.

These 10 principles cover the full spectrum of impacts that businesses can have on children’s rights inside workplaces, at the marketplace on the environment and communities around business.
 
UNICEF encourages businesses across all sectors to integrate children’s rights into core business activity. UNICEF has set up partnerships with businesses all around the world to help guide business action.

Here are the different categories of support UNICEF Bangladesh has for businesses --    

Training for business

UNICEF Bangladesh offers training for interested businesses to help sustainability and CSR professionals understand how to implement a child rights approach within corporate social responsibility and sustainability programmes.

If you’re interested, please email: i.e. crbangladesh@unicef.org

The RMG sector

Since 2017, UNICEF Bangladesh has been working in partnership with 10 of the country’s leading garment manufacturing companies to help them integrate children’s rights into their manufacturing operations. This approach is supported by some of the world’s leading garment brands.

As a result of their partnership with UNICEF, 10 garment businesses have committed to taking concrete actions to integrate children’s rights into their manufacturing operations. 

UNICEF report on the sector’s impacts on children’s rights 

      

Child Marriage

GrameenPhone and UNICEF Bangladesh

GrameenPhone and UNICEF Bangladesh joined forces to raise awareness of the importance of child online safety in Bangladesh.

 This partnership is designed to stimulate national awareness to ensure that children, parents, teachers and care givers are aware of how to stay safe online and to inform a child rights supportive policy environment regarding children and the internet.


 

      

Supporting Mothers@Work

Investing in working mothers makes a long-term business sense.
 
Mothers@Work is a programme developed by UNICEF in consultation with government and national stakeholders to support the rights of working mothers and their children.
 
The seven minimum standards for workplaces employing mothers are, breastfeeding accommodation, breastfeeding supportive workplace environment, childcare, maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, employment protection, non-discrimination and health protection.

Children in tea production

UNICEF Bangladesh is partnering with the Bangladesh Tea Association and several tea manufacturing companies to integrate children’s rights into the sector. A vital part of this work is to support access to basic social services in tea garden communities.

UNICEF’s global work with the tea sector  

Children on the internet

Globally, 1 in 3 users of the internet is a child. In an increasingly digital Bangladesh, more and more children are engaging with the online world. The internet is a powerful tool for increasing access to information, but it comes with a unique set of risks, particularly with regards to online safety.
 
UNICEF has produced a series of tools to guide mobile telecommunications and ICT companies to integrate child rights into their operations. The General Principles provide child rights-based approach to privacy and freedom of expression for national authorities, industry, parents and educators.

Guidance and self-assessment tool developed by UNICEF help mobile operators undertake assessments of their policies and processes and children’s rights.