In April 2022, after a near three-year hiatus, Label STEP hosted its annual international coordinators’ meeting for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting, which took place in Kathmandu, Nepal, marks the only occasion for STEP’s local country representatives – working on the ground across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Iran, and India – to come together and reflect on the recent and ongoing activities occurring both within their own countries and abroad.
Cross-Country Learning and Cooperation
While there can be a tendency in the industry to regard rug-producing countries as competitors with one another, STEP aims to leverage their differences as a strength – striving to locate opportunities where these countries can learn from one another, while still bearing in mind the unique needs and contexts of each respective country. Ultimately, STEP uses this meeting as an opportunity to collaborate in order to develop the best possible practices toward improving the living and working conditions of weavers in all of the rug-producing countries we serve.
Focus on Wages, Social Security and the Environment
This year, the conference included a review of past, present and future activities, assessing key issues such as COVID-19 relief efforts; the development of increased social security nets for weavers; the maintenance of effective living wage assessments; the ever-improving scope of verification work; and, strategies for implementing a more robust and effectual environmental protection scheme. The STEP representatives also took the opportunity to visit local weaving and dying facilities throughout Kathmandu and Nepal in order to observe how these systems may differ or overlap with those of their respective countries.
In the year to come, STEP remains committed to the ongoing process expanding and improving its programs and initiatives to best serve weavers and their communities toward the realization of a sustainable future for the industry and the environment.