Former Nepalese child labourer running successful social collective
A Nepalese social entrepreneur who escaped forced marriage and working in a sweatshop is hoping to raise awareness about child labour in international supply chains.
“We all have the responsibility to become aware,” Nasreen Sheikh told CTV News Channel from Toronto’s “Buy Good. Feel Good. Expo,” where she is selling goods made by Local Women’s Handicraft, the fair trade collective she founded in Kathmandu years ago.
She has come a long way from the patriarchal village in which she grew up – a place so remote and undocumented that she does not have a birth certificate and does not know her age.
But Sheikh managed to escape the “hardship and pain” she experienced as a child labourer, where she would work long hours in a windowless factory from dawn until dusk.
She founded her trade collective, where she works with the disadvantaged and undocumented women of Nepal, teaching them skills to create handicrafts such as shawls and tote bags and hoping to empower them.
“I feel like through education, I was able to understand what (are) human rights,” she said.
Sheikh said that she runs her collective by doing “everything opposite” of what she saw in the sweatshop.
“Everything we do in our daily life, not only affects you, but your community, the country and the planet,” she said.