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The President's Trip to South Asia

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Trip to South Asia


Office of the Press Secretary
(New Delhi, India)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 20, 2000



President Clinton today announced an assistance package of over $14 million to expand upon the progress already made by the government and the peopleof Bangladesh to keep children out of factories and enrolled in school.Since 1995, approximately 9,000 children have left jobs in garmentfactories to attend schools established by a U.S. funded project of theInternational Labor Organization's (ILO) International Program for theElimination of Child Labor (IPEC). This new joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Agency for International Development, theGovernment of Bangladesh, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) willremove additional children from abusive work and improve working conditions in Bangladesh. The initiative includes:

  • $8.6 million to reduce abusive child labor by removing approximately30,000 children from hazardous industries in Bangladesh and placing them in school;
  • $1.7 million for a regional project to stop trafficking of children;
  • $3 million to improve working conditions for women through skillstraining and worker rights, and a new health insurance program for workingwomen in rural areas; and
  • $1 million to raise health and safety standards for hazardous work.

Eliminating Abusive Child Labor

  • The $8.6 million in child labor assistance that the President announcedtoday will fund additional IPEC projects targeted to Bangladesh childreninvolved in exploitative or hazardous industries.
  • Approximately 30,000 children now working in the construction, shrimp,and leather industries, on tea plantations, as cigarette and glass banglesmakers, or as domestic servants, scavengers, transport helpers and weaverswill be able to go from work to school.
  • The U.S. is the world's largest contributor to IPEC, accounting for 57%of contributions last year.

Stopping the Trafficking of Children

  • An unknown number of children, especially girls, are trafficked each year into exploitative work. Many end up in sexual slavery, forced labor ordomestic servitude.
  • The President's $1.7 million regional project will enable the ILO to help prevent trafficking of children from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka,while assisting in the rescue and rehabilitation of those who fall prey totraffickers.

Improving Working Conditions for Women

  • Women in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment andoccupational safety and health hazards because of their concentration inthe least protected informal sectors and their lower educational and skilllevels.
  • Low wages, irregular payment, and lack of job security all add to theexploitative conditions which women often face.
  • The President's $3 million initiative will establish a micro-healthinsurance program for approximately 3 million women in rural, informalsector jobs who traditionally have not had access to any form of healthinsurance.
  • Projects also will focus on improving working conditions for women, andby working through the ILO, increase their participation and representation in trade unions, and enhance their skills through training.

Raising Health and Safety Standards for Hazardous Work

The President's $1 million initiative involves a collaboration of theU.S. Department of Labor and relevant Bangladeshi Ministries, employers,and worker organizations to enhance health and safety standards inhazardous occupational sectors.

Projects will address, among other things, the hazards posed bychemicals, fumes, and dangerous machinery in the leather industry and therisk of fire and other hazards faced by garment workers.

President Clinton's Budget for Child Labor and Core Labor StandardsThe Administration's FY 2001 budget illustrates its continuing commitmentto eliminating child labor and raising core labor standards by providing:

  • $110 million, more than double last year's level of $45 million, to helpeliminate the scourge of child labor; and
  • Over $40 million to promote the implementation of core labor standardsand improve working conditions around the world.

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