Exploitation of Child Labor in Tech? I Can’t Hear You Over My IPOD…

This spring I interviewed a number of “The Tech” museum award laureates who have used technology to improve the human condition (usually extremely frugally). One of the most exciting innovators is Saeed Awan, director of the Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions & Environment based in Pakistan. They tackled the problem of child labor in the rug weaving industry. Instead of simply outlawing the practice (which would be futile because these child laborers are the major breadwinners for their poor families), they “engineered out” child labor by developing a “improved, ergonomic and, most important, adult-friendly loom”. Coupled with economic practices (loom ownership allows bidding on lots by adults), this innovation moves the breadwinner status back to adults (primarily women) and moves children back to schools. A perfect use of technology and worthy of a “tech” award.

But where technology providers giveth, technology providers also taketh away…

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