2021: The International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor
Every child, girl, boy, or non-binary kid, has the right to grow up in an environment that protects them from abuse and exploitation and to enjoy their childhood to the full. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), child labor is any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity and harms their schooling, health, and physical and mental development.
1. Forms of child labor
Around the world, many children are forced to work in order to survive. In addition to being underpaid, they work in conditions that endanger their health. According to UNICEF, a large majority of children work as domestic servants in homes (about 90% are girls), on plantations, or in workshops. Child labor” includes three (03) different categories: light work, hazardous work, and the worst forms of work.
Others are even subjected to the worst forms of labor, such as slavery, prostitution, crime, drug dealing, and many other dangerous jobs. The recruitment of children in armed conflicts is also considered a form of exploitation and abuse. Children who are forced to work are deprived of an education, which will harm their mental, moral and social development.
However, work that lasts only a few hours a week and does not keep children out of school is not considered child labor. This is the case for children who help their parents with household chores or agricultural work within the family.
2. Causes of child labor
One of the leading causes of child labor is poverty in families and communities. Regardless of the form of work performed or the location (home, field, or factory), they have no choice but to support the household. In some countries, legislation prohibiting child labor is not adequately enforced by the government.
School fees and ignorance of children’s rights can be barriers to education. The lack of a comprehensive or free quality education system also forces children to work rather than attend school. We can say that children are subjected to forced labor since they work against their will. Currently, an increase in child labor has been recorded due to the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Interventions to abolish child labor laws in the world
Many humanitarian organizations and associations are launching programs to combat child labor and raise awareness about the protection of children and respect for their rights. The laws governing children’s rights also need to be improved, especially in developing countries.
Poverty reduction would also help to end child labor. The state must launch a sustainable economic activity that will increase household income. Thus, parents will no longer need to encourage their children to work to support the family. Every child has the right to go to school. Moreover, education increases finding a decent job as an adult.
In short, let’s eliminate child labor for good. 2021 has been declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor by the ILO, in partnership with Alliance 8.7, to support legislative and policy action to eradicate child labor worldwide.
4. What can we do as individuals?
This is how the situation can be summarized. In an ideal world, our children and the future generation should have the opportunity to have a childhood and develop their skills in a positive environment. They should not work in factories or fields, without wages, and in less humane conditions. Lack of schools and poverty are considered the leading causes of child labor.
While the world has become more aware and shocked at the prevalence of child labor, the number of working children in the world dropped from 245 million to 168 million between 2000 and 2012. This is good news, but not enough.
5. Be aware as a consumer!
Companies that use child labor must stop forcing children not to buy their products. Chocolate, for example, is a growing business worldwide. Why is child labor required if not to increase profit margins? It’s barbaric and greedy. It is difficult to get people to understand that children are working unless they see it with their own eyes.
There are many facts and videos about child labor on the internet. We encourage you to watch them raise public awareness. Fairtrade products are made without child labor. Buy them instead and promote the efforts and initiatives of individual companies. When buying rugs, look for the “Rugmark,” which means children did not make the rug.
Some apps help consumers identify and browse companies and their labor policies. You can access the site here. When we buy products that we know were made by child labor, we voluntarily participate in this abhorrent practice. It is a difficult truth, but we must all accept this responsibility!
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