Did you know that there are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history?
It’s estimated that 40.3 million people are trapped or working against their will, with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimating that 71 percent of victims are female.
The majority of modern-day slaves, approximately 75 per cent, are found in global supply chains servicing industries such as electronics and the clothing/apparel industry. This means that there may be more than eight times the number of women enslaved within global supply chains than there are women in New Zealand. Antislavery.org estimates that there are also 10 million children trapped in slavery today.
Forced labour accounts for the largest proportion of slaves in the modern world, and is often in the form of debt bondage or debt slavery, where a person is forced to work to pay off a debt.
The 2018 Global Slavery Index found 36 countries were taking steps to investigate forced labour in business or public supply chains, up from just four countries in 2016. Australia was one of them. The Modern Slavery Act was passed by the Australian Government in October 2018 and since 1 July 2019, companies with revenues of AU$100 million or more have been required to track the risks in their supply chains. From 1 July 2020, these companies will be required to report their risks and what they are doing about it.
In our home of New Zealand, the country is already party to two International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions that provide a framework for fighting forced labour: the Forced Labour Convention and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention.
But with International Day for the Abolition of Slavery now being marked on December 2, it is important to ask where our responsibility as a leading outdoor gear and apparel company lies in combatting this crisis and who has the biggest potential to make an impact.
Using business for good
Working for eight years across thirteen countries as a human rights investigator, Kathmandu's Corporate Social Response-ability Manager, Gary Shaw, has seen the effects of modern slavery on the communities in which it is rife.
"Right now, less than two per cent of people in slavery are liberated and their perpetrators held accountable," says Gary. "This rate shows that governments and NGOs working on this problem are not going to address this issue without the help of the private sector."
For Kathmandu, this means ensuring our supply chain is transparent and that our workers have a voice. We work in partnership with our suppliers and in collaboration with other brands to proactively address such risks.