June 12th has been designated the UN World Day Against Child Labor to remember the children who have been robbed of their childhood, education and opportunities for a better future and to advocate for those in forced childhood labor, today, as I write this. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 218 million children in employment, 152 million children in child labor, and 73 million children in hazardous work. Of the 152 million children who work as child laborers, 64 million are girls and 88 million are boys.
According to the ILO, child labor is defined as “the use of children in industry or business, especially when illegal or considered inhumane.” Children (aged 5 to 17) are put to work, either to provide for their families or to survive on their own. In the same report by the ILO, 71% work in the agricultural sector and 69% perform unpaid work within their family unit.
There are many places around the world where children who work are protected by law either by age restrictions or working condition minimums. For example, where I live in the United States, the issue of having children work in harmful conditions was addressed beginning in 1938 with the enactment of Fair Labor Standards Act, the first child labor law in the nation. I often take these types of child labor laws for granted, but unfortunately, many children around the world don’t share these same protections.
One reason can be attributed to poverty (also keep in mind 1 out of 5 children in the U.S. also live in poverty), but it can also be as a result of traditions held by families who believe that children are meant to work for their keep. In addition, these children lose the opportunity for a better future for themselves since they are not expected or don’t have a path to receive an education. Children whose families are struggling to survive are expected to work and don’t have the luxury of opting out, but they do this at the expense of their childhood and their future.
Of the countries surveyed by the ILO, Africa had the highest number of child laborers at 72.1million by region, while the Asia and Pacific region follow close behind at 62.1 million child workers. These numbers are alarming and with the stress of the recent pandemic, the numbers have grown.
The (ILO) report warns that globally, nine million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. A simulation model shows this number could rise to 46 million if they don’t have access to critical social protection coverage.
As a woman whose first job was as a paid neighborhood babysitter at age 16, I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for those children who are forced into labor in order to survive and provide for our family. And as a mom of a young adult, I believe that children should not be deprived of their childhood or a future — I couldn’t imagine that for my own daughter, and I want to help prevent it from happening to other kids around the world. To my fellow moms around the world who believe that children should remain as children, instead of being exploited, we need to keep fighting for their rights, not just today, but every day.
So, what can we do to advocate for the children who need it most? Here are few of the organizations that World Moms Network has advocated for in the past in support of the rights of children:
The Advocates for Human Rights — an organization based in Minnesota, USA whose mission is “The mission of The Advocates for Human Rights is to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law. By involving volunteers in research, education, and advocacy, we build broad constituencies in the United States and select global communities.” One of our contributors, Jennifer Prestholdt, is an international human rights lawyer who works for this organization.
Save the Children — a global organization based in Connecticut, USA which in 1919 was “the first global movement for children, boldly declaring that children have rights.” They work in over 100 countries, and child sponsorships are available. In 2015 several of our World Moms met Save the Children at the UN in NYC to report on programs that benefited children worldwide.
UNICEF — officially, The United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF “works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.”In 2012 several of our World Moms went to Uganda with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to view UNICEF’s family and children health days throughout the country.
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Regional Editor, Tes Silverman, of Virginia, USA.
Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.
Though the World is still reeling from impacts the SARS-CoV-2 has wrought on terra firma since December 2019, today is World Oceans Day. As far as I know, the ocean is one place the virus has NOT wreaked havoc. So, let’s divert focus for a while and celebrate life…teeming below the sea.
If you are lucky enough to live on or near the coast, then you know the power of looking out over the sea. It’s a vista that can be inspiring, breathtaking, powerful, calming and foreboding; sometimes simultaneously. Remarkably, the ocean covers 71% of our planet’s surface and contains 97% of all water on Earth. Furthermore, about 80% of it has yet to be explored, mapped or even seen. Though the ocean is one, continuous body of water, humanity has divided it into 4 geographic regions: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic; 5 regions if you also include the newly designated Southern Ocean, around Antarctica (facts courtesy of National Geographic). Maybe you already knew all of this. That’s awesome.
But did you also know that today, June 8, is the United Nations designated World Oceans Day?
The proposal to mark June 8 to celebrate the ocean came from the Canadian delegation, at the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It didn’t pass an official resolution at the UN General Assembly until 2008. So, because June 8, 2021 is both the official relaunch of World Moms Network and UN World Oceans Day, I dedicate this post to both causes.
The theme for UN World Oceans Day 2021 is The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. Because this is a post for World Moms Network, I’ll talk about how the ocean impacts my own family’s life.
Let me start by saying that the ocean has been a huge part of my life from inception.
I was born into a family of ocean lovers. My father served as a Navy Salvage Diver and my mother is an ocean devotee. As a child, I was surrounded by images, artifacts and elements of the sea. We spent lots of time at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, onboard boats and summering at the shore. In fact, when I think about it, I can hardly recall a family vacation that didn’t somehow involve being on, in or near the ocean. We spent hours at maritime museums, aquaria and gazing at painted seascapes in galleries near and far.
My college major had little to do with the ocean but one of the most impactful courses I took was Coral Reef Ecology. My college was located in Memphis, Tennessee. The lab portion of the course, however, was in The Bahamas. For one week in May, we lived at a science research station on the tiny island of San Salvador. We spent our mornings snorkeling and logging the biology of the island; and we spent our afternoons studying the geology of it. The sea enchanted me with the vibrant and complex societies just below its surface. I wanted to go deeper and learn more.
I knew I needed to get SCUBA certified.
In my early 20s, when I was living and working in Asia, I determined to get my diving certification so I could explore more of the world below the waves. Over the next decade, the journey took me to dive sites around Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Mexico and the Caribbean. Whenever there was time—and a nearby dive shop—I went.
When I met my husband in 2000, I encouraged him also to get PADI certified, so we could explore together. And we did. Early in our relationship, we spent a few days on a live-aboard dive boat in Thailand, in search of the ever elusive Whale Shark; we still haven’t spotted one. On our honeymoon, we did a wreck dive. Together we have seen reef sharks, barracuda, sail fish, and all kinds of rays. We have encountered pods of sea turtles, eels and octopus and infinite numbers of fish. Diving together was pure joy.
Then came kids.
In the past 15 years, we have dived just a handful of times; waiting for that day when maybe we could get our kids interested in diving too.
That day has arrived. This is the year, at 12 and 15, when our kids finally are ready to take on the adventure with us.
Though we all were born on one side of the Atlantic—the East Coast of the United States—we now live on the other side, the West Coast of Portugal. Back in northern New England, unless you’re diving for a lobster dinner, SCUBA diving isn’t a terribly popular past time. It’s COLD! And though the weather in Portugal is temperate and sunny year-round, the Atlantic here is even COLDER!
Diving in frigid, 17C/62F degree water with 7mm thick wetsuits, hoods and booties may not seem like ideal conditions but in Portugal, diving is a big deal. In fact, pretty much anything to do with the ocean is a big deal: surfing, kite surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding, fishing, spear fishing, sport fishing, eating fish and, of course, sailing. The Portugese are a seafaring people. This is the home of The Discoverers after all.
In the middle of a pandemic, faced with social distance requirements, excessive screen time and lockdowns, what better place to escape than the ocean?
And that is what we did. We invested in getting our kids their SCUBA certifications; not because we plan to go diving every weekend nor even every vacation vacation. As World Moms, we’re all on a path to raise global citizens and part of that journey requires raising awareness at all levels. Sure, diving is a luxury—just like skiing or any sport that requires extensive gear—but when you experience an environment, when you truly spend time getting to know its surroundings and inhabitants, you become a citizen conservationist.
So today is World Oceans Day and to honor it, I’m happy to report that this past weekend, both of my kids did their first open water dive. When I descended 11m/33ft into the chilly waters off the coast of Sesimbra, Portugal and saw my kids kneeling on the sandy bottom, it was something akin to magic. I never got the chance to dive with my own father—the person who first planted the love of the sea deep within me—but by witnessing it planted in my own children, I know that I am passing on that legacy. I know that I am raising stewards of the sea.
This is an original post to World Moms Network from our Managing Editor, Kyla P’an, who resides in Cascais, Portugal. All photos in this post are attributed to the author.
Kyla was born in suburban Philadelphia but spent most of her time growing up in New England. She took her first big, solo-trip at age 14, when she traveled to visit a friend on a small Greek island. Since then, travels have included: three months on the European rails, three years studying and working in Japan, and nine months taking the slow route back from Japan to the US when she was done. In addition to her work as Managing Editor of World Moms Network, Kyla is a freelance writer, copy editor, recovering triathlete and occasional blogger. Until recently, she and her husband resided outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where they were raising two spunky kids, two frisky cats, a snail, a fish and a snake. They now live outside of Lisbon, Portugal with two spunky teens and three frisky cats. You can read more about Kyla’s outlook on the world and parenting on her personal blogs, Growing Muses And Muses Where We Go
Hello, there! Remember when the World Moms used to jet set off to parts unknown? Or were always busy covering conferences and events around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Well, the pandemic has provided our editing team time to reflect about a lot, including about what the future of World Moms Network will be, and I’d like to share with you what’s been going on behind the scenes over the past year!
How World Moms Network Got Started
First, if you are new here, you may be wondering how we got started…Back in 2010 when I had a toddler and another one on the way, I was interested to find a site to read that had perspectives from mothers from around the world. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it by getting a bunch of books out of the library, creating a website, and (kindly) harassing mothers I knew to write for the site to get started. If you build it, they will come. And they came! I have met so many magnificent women through this site! And if I knew the impact we were about to make in the years to come, I may have been even more nervous on day one – not being able to see the future, is bliss sometimes!
Over the past more than a decade we grew to over 70 volunteer global staff. Our World Moms wrote their hearts out on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights, and social good. They also made global friends along the way, championed social good causes, were sent on international reporting trips, spoke at the World Bank, and more! Then in more recent years we began to slow down…
The Slow Down…Was This The End?
Maybe it was because our kids were getting a bit older and we found ourselves with less time in front of the computer, maybe it was because we got more involved in our local communities, maybe it was because we went back to full time work or our work responsibilities grew, maybe it was because we all just needed a break, maybe blogging was losing steam, maybe we had had a good run, and this was it. However, amid the slowdown, the site stayed up. There were still World Moms who felt motivated here and there to put a post up. They kept us active, and we were still around.
I thought during the wind down, “This might be it.” We had an amazing run which led to invitations to places like the UN and the White House. (We still can’t believe that all happened!) Our editors had new things going on in their lives, too. Not to mention, the political climate of the world began to change and became more polarized (and depressing).
Messages From World Moms
I thought we were all ready to move on. Then the messages started rolling in. When are we beginning to ramp up? When can I write again? The World Moms wrote to me asking when we were getting back up and running. It was a pattern over time. The messages came in like delegates deliberating at a UN conference — from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, etc. The world was nudging World Moms Network that there was still a need for us.
Once the pandemic hit, we decided to have a few video calls to catch up with old friends and do a mental health check in. Every time we had a call different World Moms would show up. The questioning continued, “What are the next steps with World Moms Network?”, and they talked about how much they needed our community. It was their happy place. And, of course, we laughed A LOT! We’d hear stories that World Moms Network would come up in a mom’s therapy session as being something they really loved doing and that made them feel good about themselves and the world. Having their roles here made them feel important. Connecting with moms outside of their culture made life exciting and interesting! This was all true for me, too!
I always thought that the site was for our readers. Well, it very much is, but I completely underestimated how much the site is for us, the World Moms contributors, too. We’re here for you, but we’re also here because we need to be. There’s just something brewing in the universe that is tugging at us to be together and to get back to writing and convening. Coming from a group of global moms who are so used to giving, it was quite impactful to realize that we were all getting something out of what we do here, too. World Moms Network is a place where we belong. That sense of belonging is important to me, too. I had just been too focused on what we were doing, and I needed time to think, to take a step back, and to see the greater picture.
Rebuilding World Moms Network
After our group calls at the beginning of the pandemic Senior Editors, Purnima in India and Elizabeth in the US, suggested we get on a call one day just to catch up together in a small group. That chat led to more chats. Those chats turned into action items. Before we knew it, we were meeting more regularly, having weekly calls, and our planning circle grew wider.
Then I started a grad school program at Columbia University to earn my Executive Masters of Public Administration with a global policy studies concentration. I used my Quantitative Analysis class to create an effective survey for our moms. I thought, “What the heck! Why don’t I poll the World Moms and see how many were actually interested in starting up regular posting again?” They responded!!! They wanted in! I was really quite overwhelmed.
Purnima, Elizabeth, and I took the survey data and began running with it. We rebuilt our editing team. That was the easiest part. To our luck over time we had some editors come and go and many wanted to come back! We started working with a web designer to rejuvenate the site. Our informal chats turned into 2 weekly meetings (at different times to accommodate time zones).
Kyla was back. Kirsten was back. Margie was back. Tes was back. Oh my gosh, this band was ready to practice! That plus Orana was back and ready to pump up our social media. Nicole was back and thinking about ways to align us with nonprofits. Erin was back and wanted to run a yoga and meditation month. I was running lots of meetings again! Each editor had a geographical region of writers. The majority of our writers returned.
Among those that didn’t return – some were having babies or just moved and needed some time. We began to feel empowered and soon realized that you never quite say goodbye to a World Mom. We expected lot of No’s. To hear stories about people had moved on and there was no longer room for World Moms Network. On the contrary, we received lots of yesses and responses from people who wanted to stay on board and help with photos or offer to help in some other way if they couldn’t write. Even Asta, a World Mom from Norway who wrote our very first post on November 1, 2010, is back to help with photos!!
World Moms Network Relaunches!
The connections we have made over the past decade were real. And strong. Here we are again! Readers and World Moms, welcome to World Moms Network 2.021! Beginning next week, we’ll be posting twice per week (be on the lookout on Tuesdays and Thursdays!) and are planning to cover more UN International Days and continue to align our site with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals because they are at the core of what is important to us globally. Also, we have taken feedback from our contributors and rearranged the site into updated hot topic columns: “World Voice” (human rights and social good), “Let’s Talk About Racism”, “Health and Wellness”, “COVID-19”, “World Parenting”, and “Meet a World Mom!”.
We’ve become a family. We need this network as much as you do. World Moms Network is a community that people enjoy being a part of. Get ready for another long ride. Get ready to hear more about the behind the scenes, as we try out better ways to bring that to the site. World Moms Network is BACK!!!
Thank you for being here with us! Please subscribe to our newsletter (sign up on this page) to keep up to date with our posts and engage with us on social media. We have a LinkedIn page now, too! Stay tuned for great things to come from World Moms Network!
—Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO, World Moms Network
This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden, who hails from New Jersey, USA. Photo credit to Shilpa Iyer Photography.
Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.
She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.
Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.