The 2021 UN RBHR Forum is taking place from June 1-4, 2021 and is hosted by the Thailand government. As 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as the last nine years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the Forum will focus on the transformations that are needed to realise responsible business in the Asia-Pacific and, consequently, make this a decade of action.The forum consists of four days of immersive multi-stakeholder discussions promoting responsible business in Asia, covering 46 sessions on different topics and bringing together over 200 expert speakers.
The Centre was delighted to take part in the session on ‘The State of Child Rights and Business in East Asia Pacific’ on 2 June. Our contribution focused on the role businesses can play to create decent, inclusive work and skill-building opportunities for young workers.
Speaking on the impact of work on children, The Centre's CEO highlighted the role of parents' working situation, their level of pay and how that in turn affects a wide range of issues from access to education to healthcare. She also highlighted how more bottom-up communication is needed to get a more accurate picture from a multitude of stakeholders and that more needs to be done to institutionalise such an approach.
Vietnamese young worker shares her work story
We also invited a young worker called Huong from Vietnam to speak about her experiences going from a former homeworker and school drop-out to enjoying decent work, pay and hours at a factory thanks to a youth development programme being implemented there. Huong gave a moving account of the hardships she experienced while making incense from her home for a year after dropping out of school due to poverty. "I really hoped for a better and safer job for my family," she said. Recalling the tough working conditions, Huong described how she would work from morning to evening every day, breathing in dust from the incense.
In 2019, a local factory where Huong’s father worked introduced a youth development programme that enabled young workers above the minimum working age but under 18 to access decent, age-appropriate work and skills training.
“My work hours were reasonable so I had more time for my family and interests. I had the chance to make new friends who also participated in the programme at the factory and I was also introduced to adult workers and supervisors,” she said.
“I feel grateful for the factory and the youth development programme for creating an opportunity for me to have a stable job, being trained and being well oriented,” she added.
Watch a recording of the full session below, or via Youtube here.
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