Mapping ‘invisible’ shoemakers in south India: RMIT Round-Table in Vellore

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In December 2017, the RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) Round-Table facilitated by Cividep India in Vellore, brought together women workers, manufacturers, charities and brands face-to-face for the first time in a bid to map the role of homeworkers – an “invisible workforce” in a global supply chain making high-end shoes – and improve conditions. Vellore district in Tamil Nadu is the hub of a growing industry in India producing leather footwear for export. In 2016, India exported 236 million pairs of shoes up from 206 million in 2015, according to the World Footwear Yearbook. It also has one of the highest concentrations of homeworkers in India – largely women handstitching uppers of leather shoes. There are hundreds of thousands of women from poor, marginalised families who work for cash – stitching, embroidering, and weaving at home to put the finishing touches to products that are sold globally.

[For the full article, please see ‘Brands lace-up to map ‘invisible’ shoemakers in South India‘, written by Anuradha Nagaraj, edited by Belinda Goldsmith, and published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation]