Apparel and footwear

The garment manufacturing industry provides employment for more than 70 million workers worldwide. The majority of workers in factories are female. In many countries, the garment industry is characterized by lack of decent work and inadequate living conditions for workers and their families.



A woman holds a small child in her arms
© UNICEF/UNI171784/Paul

Children are affected by Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) industry on a daily basis. Lack of adequate maternity protection for the largely female workforce, inadequate breastfeeding support, poor access to quality childcare, long working hours and the absence of living wages has a direct impact on the situation of working mothers and their children.

Moreover, a significant share of workers and their families live in and around deprived urban slum communities where children are at risk of child labour and lack access to essential basic services. Clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, healthcare, adequate nutrition and education can be severely limited in these communities, denying children of garment workers a safe environment where they can thrive and develop.



Two small children squat at outdoor taps to wash their hands
© UNICEF/UN09052/Lynch

Vietnam's apparel and footwear sector affects children in a multitude of ways - as workers, worker's dependents and community members. The protection of adolescent workers is a particular concern in the industry. The conditions for working parents inside factories also directly impact their children, particularly in relation to low wages and long working hours.

Business activities also affect children in communities, as the development of social infrastructure in urban and semi-urban areas lags behind the fast pace of migration and industrialization. Internal migrant workers, who make up approximately 80 percent of the apparel and footwear workforce, have limited access to decent housing and basic services, including child care and schools. Due to these challenges, many migrants send their children to their hometowns to be raised by extended family, severing parent-child bonds and putting children at risk of neglect.

In 2016, UNICEF Vietnam has launched a pilot programme that seeks to prevent child labour and promote children's rights in the apparel and footwear supply chain in Vietnam through research, factory engagement and the publication of 'good practice' guidance for the wider apparel and footwear industry.