Conde Nast College welcomes Head of Children’s Rights and Business at UNICEF Jen Shepherd to speak to the students about the impact of the fashion industry on the rights of children and how we all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our children. BA Fashion Communications student, Alice Morey reports …
Jen Shepherd of UNICEF visits Condé Nast College London
From a fascination in the supply chain of floristry, to knowing the origins of who picked the flowers, what were they paid and how many people were involved in the process, Shepherd’s early career in floristry fostered a curiosity to question. Shepherd yearned to understand the details behind a product and not to just accept what was being presented to her. With more than 100 million people affected globally by the apparel industry it has become the mission of UNICEF to make a change.
UNICEF a global mission
UNICEF is a UK registered charity set up 70 years ago operating across 190 different countries and territories with the main purpose to protect the rights of children; rights which are guaranteed and ratified by international law. UNICEF work to advocate and promote the 54 rights set out by the UN Convention on the rights of children (UNCRC), “a framework designed to unlock resources allowing a child to be heard” Shepherd notes.
Shepherd’s work falls into three main pillars. Firstly to ‘increase the understanding of the effects of a business on children’; secondly to ‘accelerate actions by business to respect children’s rights; and thirdly to ‘enable business to support children’s rights’. A keen passion of Sheperd’s is to educate future generations on the impact of their choices and to help grow a mindful awareness of how your work can help to ensure the rights of children. A key point of the talk was aimed at the students understanding that as the future of the fashion industry we have a responsibility to make sure we advocate for the rights of children at all stages of the supply chain.
A commitment to Children’s Rights
A UN Global Compact set up a commitment to Children’s Rights & Business Principles (2012). A 10-principle set of guides centred around ‘1 commitment to children’s rights’, which has a focus of growing and shaping an awareness of the scale of the problem, acknowledging the areas which require improvement and developing a level of transparency. The further 9 principles are split into three areas ‘The Marketplace’, ‘The Workplace’ and ‘The Community & The Environment’.
Shepherd left the talk with a positive case study of ‘Tony’ Chocolonely’ which was launched by Dutch journalist Teun van de Keuken, whom once discovering the rife slavery across 60% of West African cocoa farms, set out to combat the issue, creating a chocolate bar with 100% slave-free cocoa. After detecting 30 instances of child labour within their own supply chain they implemented a remediation programme addressing the underlaying causes of child labour, demonstrating accountability and a responsibility over the entire supply chain. An interesting point to note is the chocolate bar is shaped into uneven pieces to represent the unfair nature of the supply chain helping to cement the story of the brand.
The talk was thought provoking and left many questions about how much do we really know about what is going on in our supply chains? All questions which are relevant and complement the Ethical Issues in Fashion module the BA Year 2’s are currently undertaking.
By Alice Morey, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication