News courtesy of IDSN International Associate – Arisa

This year, the ‘OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector’ took place from the 22nd till the 24th of February. This forum is an annual event during which multiple topics – linked to due diligence in clothing and shoes production chains – are discussed by many different stakeholders.

During this forum, Arisa and the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and Rights Education and Development Centre (READ) organised a side-session on caste-based discrimination in clothing and leather production chains in South Asia. It is the first time caste-based discrimination was on the official agenda during the OECD Forum. The session attracted about 80 participants, including businesses, governments, civil society organisations, and multi-stakeholder initiatives.

During the session, organisers explained what caste-based discrimination is, why it is relevant to take it into account in production chains in South Asia the role caste plays in the workplace and in production chains in South Asia, how businesses can approach and address these questions and problems, and more. Findings from studies that found several risks on caste-based discrimination in the clothing and shoe sector were also presented.

The very first session during the OECD on caste-based discrimination, with about 80 participants and an interactive Q&A, was a success.

Apart from this session about caste-based discrimination, Arisa organised one more session during the OECD forum. This session, organised together with Somo, Mondial FNV, and Transparantem, was about extending human rights due diligence beyond first-tier suppliers to the upper tiers of the global textiles and garment supply chain, taking the textile industry of Tamil Nadu (India) as a case in point.