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.https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_797515.pdf
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.
“Stop Child Labor Graffiti” by The Advocacy Project is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/