January 31 every year is Child Labor Day. UNICEF asserts that child labor harms the physical and mental development of children and young people and interferes with their education. At the same time, child labor reinforces intergenerational poverty and weakens national economies.
So what can be done about it? Let's take a look at some alarming facts about this phenomenon, as well as some reasons for hope!
The International Labor Organization, a specialized UN organization that advocates for workers' rights and safety, says 168 million children are involved in child labor exploitation worldwide, of which the largest proportion comes from Asia and the South-East Pacific, comprising 78 million (9.3% of the region's total child population). In sub-Saharan Africa, the number is 59 million children, compared with 13 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 9.2 million children in the Middle East and North Africa.
Luckily, the percentage of child labor has been on a downward trend over the past decade
The ILO also says that the total number of children in labor exploitation worldwide has fallen by a third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million. Child labor among girls has fallen by 40% since then, compared with 25% for boys, while the number of children engaged in work deemed “toxic” has dropped from 171 million in 2000 to 171 million. 85 million today.
While significant progress has certainly been made, 85 million children is still 85 million too many, so we cannot be complacent until this appalling abuse is eliminated once and for all!
The problem of child labor is related to poverty.
It's no surprise that child labor is most prevalent in places where people struggle to meet their daily needs. Families in poor areas are often forced to send their children to work for economic necessity.
A wide range of products available for purchase in developed countries have been manufactured using child labor.
Sadly, residents of wealthy nations often unwittingly support the continuation of child labor through the everyday products they purchase. According to the Huffington Post, carpets are often manufactured in Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal and Pakistan, using child labor, while diamond rings are often referred to as "blood diamonds" because of their well-known association with child and forced labor.
Cotton and coffee are also closely linked to child labor, so ALWAYS look for the internationally recognized Fair Trade brand when purchasing these products. The best way to avoid supporting child labor in your day-to-day life is to only buy locally produced products whenever possible – even if they are a bit more expensive, these goods are less likely to be produced by child labor.
Fortunately, human rights organizations are taking steps to end child labor abuse. For example, the ILO's corporate social responsibility program works with large companies committed to eliminating child labor in their supply chains, while the Children's Fund Alliance mobilizes politicians and Advocate on behalf of exploited and vulnerable children worldwide. The rate of child labor has decreased in recent years, and with continued pressure from citizens and concerned groups, we can hope that this practice is stamped out for good!
How you can help to prevent child labor?
- Raise awareness and share to educate others on child labor issues and speak up on behalf of all abandoned and marginalized children worldwide.
- Donate to Child Labor Union.
- Sponsor children with the Child Fund Alliance or donate here.
- Take the 2015 UN My World survey, choosing “protection from crime and violence” and “better employment opportunities” as one of your sixteen priorities.
- Most importantly, don't lose heart! As the United Nations says: “No individual, no organization, not even the largest, can stop child labor on its own, and no action, even the smallest, can be seen as too small to bring about change. Only through the joining hands of forces of goodwill from all walks of life can we hope to end child labor.”
ObservedChild Labor Day has been observed the fourth Sunday in January.
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Sunday, January 24th, 2021
Sunday, January 23rd, 2022
Sunday, January 22nd, 2023
Sunday, January 28th, 2024