GoodWeave International is Full Member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance, founded in 2001 to define and codify good practices in standard-setting for progressive change. ISEAL defines its associate members as “organizations that are in the process of meeting requirements for good practice in either their international standard-setting or international accreditation practices and that have committed to the ISEAL Alliance Code of Ethics.”
ISEAL provides guidance and models for meaningful, rigorous, transparent standards that are developed using input from all stakeholders and have effective complaint mechanisms, among other qualities. GoodWeave’s standards are in process for full compliance with the ISEAL framework.
GoodWeave began in 1994 as a small organization serving critical and immediate needs in the carpet industry. Since then, GoodWeave has helped thousands of children and families, but there’s much more work to do. Simultaneously, consumers have become more sensitive to marketplace claims and want assurances that a label means what it says. To meet these expectations and to continue to grow and serve more children, families and communities, GoodWeave is in the process of updating and strengthening its standards to meet contemporary best practices.
Under the guidance of ISEAL, GoodWeave aims to strengthen its standards to meet the toughest tests of clarity, rigor and transparency; to be attentive to the needs of all stakeholders; to encourage rather than create barriers to change; and to establish effective complaint mechanisms that will speedily rectify any failures in oversight. Standards in development are developed through a comprehensive multi-stakeholder consultation process.
To become licensed with GoodWeave, rug-making facilities agree to be monitored regularly and inspected at random by GoodWeave-authorized inspectors. Looms are registered with the monitoring and inspections office, and each finished rug includes a number on the GoodWeave label allowing end purchasers to track and verify its origin.
Manufacturers and importers pay associated licensing fees that fund GoodWeave. Retailer and showroom lead sponsors also pay fees for participation in GoodWeave in the countries where rugs are sold. Fees support GoodWeave’s education programs and other community initiatives for former child weavers and their families, the inspection and certification process and other operational costs, including the GoodWeave consumer education campaign.
GoodWeave's mission is to end child labor in the carpet industry and to offer educational opportunities to children in weaving communities.
GoodWeave rescues children directly from the looms and strives to deter the employment and exploitation of other children. GoodWeave also inspects and certifies carpet-weaving facilities and authorizes use of its trademarked label on rugs made at looms meeting GoodWeave standards. The certification program helps fund educational opportunities for children as well as support and resources for families and weaving communities.
In North America, GoodWeave operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping to build awareness of child labor and other ethical issues in the carpet industry. It informs, educates and partners with designers, architects, retailers, importers and all who love beautiful rugs. The organization promotes and publicizes the GoodWeave label as the purchaser’s best assurance that their rug was made only by adult artisans. GoodWeave provides sales and media support for its designer, importer and retailer members.
GoodWeave (formerly known as RugMark) was founded by Kailash Satyarthi, then Chairman of the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude. After many years of rescuing Indian children from bonded labor in the carpet industry, only to see them replaced by others, Satyarthi wanted to create a market incentive for manufacturers to stop exploiting children on an industry-wide basis.
GoodWeave was formally established in 1994 by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, businesses, government entities and multilateral groups like UNICEF. The first carpets bearing the organization’s label were exported from India at the beginning of 1995, mainly to Germany. Since then, 11 million child-labor-free carpets bearing the GoodWeave label have been sold worldwide.
Through a combination of forces including GoodWeave’s efforts, child labor in the carpet industry has dropped by an estimated 75 percent since the organization was founded in 1994. GoodWeave has directly rescued more than 3,600 children and deterred the employment of many thousands more. It has helped to build awareness by shining a spotlight on child labor, the hidden tragedy of the carpet industry. Though there is much more work to be done, GoodWeave’s efforts are making it more difficult for looms to profit by selling luxury goods made by exploited children.
Once children are freed from the looms, GoodWeave makes every effort to reunite them with their families. GoodWeave runs its own education and rehabilitation facilities, and it partners with other organizations to support children’s education. Other initiatives help create strong, financially independent communities by providing health clinics, daycare facilities, adult literacy programs and worker health and training seminars.
GoodWeave International has field operations and offices in India, Nepal and Afghanistan, and national initiatives in the United States (also serving Canada), Germany and the United Kingdom (serving Europe).
Designers, importers and retailers are invited to sell GoodWeave certified rugs and join GoodWeave as members and lead sponsors.
Interior designers and consumers should insist on the GoodWeave label and help spread the word about the importance of choosing rugs made by adult artisans. The Purchase a Rug section includes profiles of GoodWeave’s retail partners, a gallery of featured rugs, rug-buying tips, a list of online shopping options and a searchable directory of showrooms and retailers.
Goodweave is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on generous donors, in addition to foundation grants and membership fees, to continue its work. Any donation amount is welcome and appreciated and helps to give more opportunities to children in Asia. Please visit the Donate page to make a gift easily and in any amount. GoodWeave is also honored to have been selected for the Combined Federal Campaign, a workplace charity fund drive for members members of the Armed Forces, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Government; see Other Ways to Support GoodWeave for details.
Ask and look for the certified and numbered GoodWeave label on the back of the rug. It’s your best assurance that no children were exploited in the production process.
We estimate that the cost to the consumer is typically no more than half a percent of the total retail price. On a $2,000 rug, that comes to about $10. Certified GoodWeave rugs are available in many price ranges to fit your budget.
Rugs that are made with experienced, adult hands are generally of a higher quality and more beautifully woven, since fine detail work takes years of practice and the patience of an adult weaver. GoodWeave members include some of the world’s finest designers of handmade rugs, and certified rugs grace many prestigious venues including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the home of actor Kelsey Grammar and the Apollo offices of Time Warner in New York.
In the Purchase a Rug section you’ll find images of member rugs, profiles and searchable directories of member retailers, importers and designers, and links to their individual websites. Many of GoodWeave’s members have extensive inventory and can also create custom rugs. Click here for a list of websites selling selected GoodWeave certified rugs. Be sure to always look to make sure the rug bears a GoodWeave label.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) recognizes child labor as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to children. Instead of going to school and experiencing childhood, 215 million children around the world are involved in this type of work.1
Of those an estimated 250,000 children are spending long days at the looms, working in poor conditions. In addition to interfering with child development and education, child labor also drives down adult wages, keeping communities trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Of the total number of children working, 126 million are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, defined in ILO Convention 182 as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children,” such as bonded labor, extremely hazardous work and other work that separates children from their families.
Ending illegal child labor would help the global economy. The ILO’s 2003 Investing in Every Child report shows that it would cost $760 billion over a 20-year period to end child labor. The estimated benefit in terms of better education and health is more than six times that—over $5 trillion in economies where child laborers are found.2
Child weavers often work as bonded laborers and never see a penny for their work. Those who are paid make far less than adult weavers, and adult weavers make less in environments where child labor is used because child labor drives down wages. 1,3
Child labor is illegal in India, Nepal and Afghanistan, where GoodWeave certification efforts are based.
Sometimes children working at home are worse off. It’s easier for inspectors to enforce fair labor standards in a factory setting than in the privacy of a home. Anything can be hidden behind closed doors. It is legal for children to work in the home, as long as they attend school full-time and are not working against their will.
The health of child carpet weavers is very poor. Many develop respiratory illnesses, spinal deformities, impaired vision and cuts and wounds from sharp tools. Many sleep on the floor next to the carpet looms and are fed only one meal a day. This leads to malnutrition and stunted mental and physical development. 3, 4, 5 For more information on the dangers of carpet weaving, click here to read David Parker's essay, "A Picture of Poor Health."
We ensure that rescued children have an opportunity to go to school. When they’re old enough, children rehabilitated by GoodWeave have the opportunity to learn a trade if they’d like to.
Child laborers in the rug industry typically aren't learning the craft of carpet weaving. They are usually given the most mundane, repetitive tasks because they’re too young to execute complex designs.
Importing, selling or specifying GoodWeave rugs is an excellent way to distinguish your business and capitalize on the growing market of consumers who are interested in buying socially responsible products. You'll also have the satisfaction of knowing you're helping end child labor.
The One in a Million campaign is designed to drive consumer demand, thus incentivizing company participation and increasing certified rug sales. In its first year, the campaign bolstered U.S. certified rug sales by 33 percent. Now 125+ licensed importers sell carpets through over 1,000 stores, showrooms and interior designers around the world.
GoodWeave has averaged over 20 percent annual market share growth for almost a decade, even during the recent economic downturn that significantly impacted the furnishings sector.
GoodWeave recruits carpet producers and importers to make and sell carpets without the use of child labor. By agreeing to adhere to GoodWeave's strict no-child-labor guidelines, permitting random inspections of carpet looms and paying associated license fees, producers receive the right to put the GoodWeave label on their carpets. The label provides the best possible assurance that children were not employed in the making of a rug. It also verifies that a portion of the carpet price is contributed to the rehabilitation and education of former child weavers. In North America, only licensed GoodWeave importers are legally permitted to sell carpets carrying the GoodWeave label. For more information, visit our Child-Labor-Free Certification page.
For rugs sourced from India, Nepal and Afghanistan––threecountries where GoodWeave works and where the child labor problem is most serious—the GoodWeave label offers the best possible assurance that no child labor was used. There are many beautiful rugs produced in other countries that are not part of GoodWeave but that might be involved with other social responsibility projects. Our current retailers tell us that their positive association with GoodWeave actually enhances sales of their entire rug inventory.
There are other “child-labor-free” labels on some rugs. GoodWeave is the only independent monitoring and inspection program working in India, Nepal and Afghanistan. The other labels might represent organizations running social programs, but these programs are philanthropic in scope, do not include random inspections and are administered by the industry itself rather than by an independent nonprofit. Rug exporters simply pay a fee to these organizations to receive “no child labor” labels without actual inspections in their factories/loom sheds. These labels do not provide the same level of assurance as the GoodWeave label.
In addition, GoodWeave represents everyone involved in the Asian carpet industry: manufacturers, importers, exporters, retailers and consumers. GoodWeave is funded by a variety of sources and is free from influence by any particular industry segment or individual government. Other labeling initiatives tend to represent single interest groups that see things from their own perspective and have their own agenda. GoodWeave has many voices but only one agenda: moving all Asian child carpet weavers from looms to schools.
GoodWeave is administered by GoodWeave International. By signing a License Agreement, importers agree to pay GoodWeave USA a 1.75 percent royalty on the net import value (FOB price) of carpet shipments on a quarterly basis. GoodWeave USA is contractually bound to return more than half of this amount to its overseas offices to be spent on the education and rehabilitation of former child laborers. The additional amount covers GoodWeave's North American public awareness campaign.
Importers are the backbone of the GoodWeave program. Out of the small fee on carpets paid by licensed importers, 60 percent is returned to Asia to educate and train former child weavers. The balance of the fees helps to build consumer awareness about the importance of purchasing certified rugs. In the United States, only licensed importers are legally permitted to sell carpets carrying the GoodWeave label. To view a sample agreement, click here. To receive a complete copy of the agreement, contact us at 1-202-234-9050 or info@GoodWeave.org.
Rugs from over 125 global importers carry the GoodWeave label. By selling rugs from these companies, you can represent the finest carpets available while offering your clients the best possible assurance that they were made under ethical conditions and without child labor. A complete list of brands is available here.
As a GoodWeave Lead Sponsor, you can help end child labor in the carpet industry and promote your reputation for social responsibility. You will receive point-of-sale materials and publicity support with consumer and trade media. You will also benefit from GoodWeave’s extensive promotion of its partner retailers to interior designers, importers and consumers. For more information, contact Partners@GoodWeave.org.
Many importers and manufacturers are supporting schools and other programs in weaving communities. But with the prevalence of child labor in hand weaving, the random, surprise inspections conducted by GoodWeave are the best way to know that only adults were involved with production.
- International Labour Organization. The End of Child Labour: Within Reach. Geneva: ILO, 2006. View online »
- International Labour Organization, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. Investing in Every Child. Geneva: ILO, 2003. View online »
- UNICEF. State of the World’s Children 1997. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. View online »
- US Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs. By the Sweat and Toil of Children, Vol. I. Washington, DC: DOL, ILAB, 1994. View online »
- Parker, D.L. Before Their Time: The World of Child Labor. New York: Quantuck Lane, 2007.
- UNICEF. Child Labor Facts. Accessed August 2009 View online »
You can help us end child labor and transform the lives of the thousands of children trapped in carpet work by making a tax-deductible donation today. Every dollar makes a difference.
At the age of five, Manju was already working on the rug looms. While she has since been found and freed from illegal carpet work, some 250,000 children throughout South Asia still toil in obscurity. Through GoodWeave nearly 3,600 kids like Manju have been rescued, rehabilitated and educated, and thousands more deterred from entering the work force.More Stories »
GoodWeave is one of only 14 full-members of the ISEAL Alliance, the global association for sustainability standards whose Codes of Good Practice are seen as global references for developing and implementing credible standards.