Skip to main content

International labor, workers rights to be discussed at Sept. 19 panel

by | Sep. 14, 2012, 11:33 AM

Workers at a ready-made-garment factory in Bangladesh. (image courtesy of Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights)
Workers at a ready-made-garment factory in Bangladesh. (image courtesy of Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights)

Three international labor activists will discuss the transformative potential of philanthropy in the women’s human rights movement on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Vanderbilt.

Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter, co-founders of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, and Ida Le Blanc, general secretary of the National Union of Domestic Employees, will discuss “Philanthropy Transformed” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall, Room 126. Brooke Ackerly, associate professor of political science, will moderate the panel, which is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the Wilson Hall lobby.

The Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity was founded in 2001 by Akter and Akhter, both former child garment workers in Bangladesh. The center’s aim is to promote the rights of the country’s estimated 3.4 million garment workers. A nonpolitical, nongovernmental organization, BCWS is widely regarded for its credible research on labor rights compliance in Bangladesh’s 4,200 ready-made-garment factories and is committed to lawful means of redressing labor rights violations.

As general secretary of the National Union of Domestic Employees in Trinidad and Tobago, Le Blanc represents domestic and other low-wage workers, particularly women, on matters such as wrongful dismissal, retrenchment, maternity protection violations and violations of minimum wage requirements. Formed in 1982, NUDE advocates for domestic and other low-paid workers not represented by unions, and campaigns for them to be recognized and protected by employment legislation.

The panel discussion is part of a campuswide initiative called “Human Identities: Global, Local, Personal,” which will bring international and nationally renowned speakers, art exhibits, film and related programming to Vanderbilt this academic year.

Human Identities builds on themes explored in the 2012 Commons Reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning husband-wife team of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The 2009 book uses individual stories and social and political context to shed light on injustices being faced by women around the globe – such as sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence and girls’ education – and argues that the oppression of women worldwide is “the paramount moral challenge” of our time.

“The goal of Human Identities is to engage first-year students in their context as well as the whole of campus through a variety of related programs from a host of different perspectives,” said Cynthia Cyrus, associate provost for undergraduate education.

For more information and other events in the series, visit the Human Identities website.

Media Inquiries:
Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS