Child labor is a reality, a rather crude one. Millions of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are forced to perform work in the worst and most dangerous conditions.
Agriculture is the industry that employs more children, and the highest rates of child exploitation can be found in places like Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.
Today, June 12th, on the World Day Against Child Labor, we must be aware of this crude reality. We have to put and end to the extreme circumstances suffered by the most disadvantaged youngsters and to do so we think we must look to the future with optimism.
That's why we have collected some information that shows the progress in the fight against child labor and against other situations of danger for children. A slow progress that it is far to be ‘victorious’. There is a lot to be done in order to make the numbers less chilling:
- Today we can say that compared to the year 2000, there are 94 millions less children performing child labor. On the other hand, the actual number of children in exploitative situation is almost 152 millions.
- In 2018, 11 countries supported the Safe Schools Declaration, an initiative of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attacks. We wish it had been many more. 82 countries are committed to protecting students, teachers and schools during war. According to a United Nations report, since 2014 the military use of schools has fallen by a third. We should demand a reduction to zero.
- Since 2000, the number of teens and children out of school has decreased by 110 million. In the immediate future, we hope to reduce this figure soon.
- In 2018, many armies and armed groups released child soldiers from their ranks. In particular: 900 in South Sudan, 833 in Nigeria and 75 in Burma. We don’t want any more children with guns.
- In the last decade, the rate of child marriage has decreased by 15% worldwide. We should not stop until its complete eradication.
- Female genital mutilation is starting to be banned in places like Somalia and suffers an important fall in places like Africa. The aim is its prohibition in every corner of the world.
- In 2016, USA highlighted the great advances made in Latin America in the fight against child labor, indicating, among other data, a decline of 2 million children in a situation of child exploitation over a four-year period. It’s not enough yet.
The Sustainable Development Goals and the fight against child labor
On a day like today, it seems important to emphasize the connection between the fight against child exploitation and the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. In other words, to which SDGs do we contribute by pursuing the eradication of child labor?:
- Goal 1: No poverty
- Goal 4: Quality education
- Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
- Objective 10: Reduced inequalities
- Objective 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
The way to equal opportunities
The UN establishes 2025 as the year to end child labor. On their behalf, the Child Labour Platform of the International Labor Organization (ILO) sets the goal of identifying and fighting the obstacles that impede the application of its agreements and favor collective action.
As for the fashion industry, the organization Child Labor Free created a campaign that allows verifying through the label of garments that there has been no child labor involved in its production. There are several brands that have already joined this initiative.
Under this perspective, it seems that social commitment starts showing results little by little but, as we said, we think that it is a very slow progress.
We cannot allow the lack of reaction by people in charge, authorities, leaders, companies, corporations or brands before such an important fight like the right of education and the right of a dignified childhood of every child in the world.
We won’t stop insisting in this subjects that make our hair stand on end. We leave you with the already known quote of Lucy Siegle that undoubtedly invites reflection on a day like today: “Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying”.