GoodWeave is an organization headquartered in Washington D.C. that focuses on monitoring carpet factories around the world for compliance with ethical labor standards. GoodWeave's principles primarily focus on eliminating child labor and bonded labor in carpet factories, while still evaulating a wide spectrum of labor issues. With operations in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan, GoodWeave inspectors monitor hundreds of carpet factories in each country and create corrective action plans for factories where labor violations are found.
My project: While GoodWeave has traditionally focused on monitoring factories, my project was based on laying the groundwork for a new initiative: the producer support program. This program aims to expand GoodWeave's operations to provide social services to workers and capacity building support to factories. I surveyed over 150 carpet workers inside factories and within slum communities, listening to their most urgent issues and understanding their challenges more closely. Workers typically cited health care costs as one of their biggest issues since poor sanitation in their communities leads to the spread of various skin diseases and illnesses such as dengue that workers pay for out of pocket since they lack insurance. I also engaged in interviews with factory management from nine factories to get their perspective on how GoodWeave can assist their capacity building efforts so that factories can achieve higher production while maintaining compliance with labor laws.
Striving towards a holistic aproach while doing baseline research for the producer support program, I connected with major organizations and researchers that focus on aiding migrant workers that travel within India in search of work. Since a large proportion of carpet workers in Panipat are migrants from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, connecting with experts in the field of migration provided GoodWeave a foundational understanding of what issues affect carpet workers at both corridors: in their villages and their destination cities. I also engaged in a literature review to research social programs that have been implemented by other non-profit organizations in India to gauge the potential for GoodWeave to replicate a proven methodology when designing its producer support program.
I concluded my internship by providing a list of suggestions for directions GoodWeave can pursue for its new program. My suggestions included creating a preventative health care program, providing documentation and identification for migrant workers, and launching a worker certification program where workers get trained on the craft of carpet making to further enhance skill sets that they can leverage when looking for jobs.
I have a lot of gratitude for the ILR travel grant because it allowed me to accomplish a task that isn’t always easy – finding a meaningful internship abroad that’s also financially feasible to cover. The ILR travel grant was essential in fully covering my cost of travel so that I could solely focus on making the most out of my internship without the worry of paying for my travel costs and other important logistics throughout the summer.