4 Actions to End Child Labor and Build a Fair Economy – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you thanks to The European Sting’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Bincheng Mao, Global Shaper, New York Hub

  • 160 million children work as child laborers worldwide.
  • Ending child labor is a moral issue and also affects livelihoods.
  • Civil society, business and governments must work together to eliminate child labor.

Child labor is not only a historical problem, but also an ongoing one. It still robs children of their childhood, restricts their access to education, shortens their life expectancy and perpetuates poverty.

Delegates and human rights analysts recently met in the South African city of Durban for the Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour. There, the International Labor Organization (ILO) unveiled a series of statistics that sounded the alarm. Today, not only are more than 160 million children working as child labourers, but for the first time since the ILO began measuring it 20 years ago, the number of child laborers has increased worldwide.

Child labor harms the physical and mental health of children and causes a significant loss of productivity in society.

Child labor harms the physical and mental health of children and causes a significant loss of productivity in society. By ending this exploitation of children, we enable more people to get an education, start small businesses and encourage more economic activity.

As members of society, we all have a role to play in ending child labor and achieving a more dynamic and just economy.

increase in child labour. Source: UNICEF and International Labor Organization, 2021.

1. Educate yourself and then share knowledge with others

Child labor is a challenge that touches our own social and economic lives. And we can only become fully aware of this when we have made an effort to educate ourselves. For example, while many people enjoy the sweet taste of milk chocolate, not everyone is aware of the bitter practice of child labor employed by some cocoa producers. According to the US Department of Labor, as of 2015, about 65% of the world’s cocoa supply came from West Africa, and 2 million children in the region were employed in hazardous labor in the cocoa-growing industry.

We can also learn about the international reactions to this finding. Since the report was published, chocolate companies have implemented the Child Labor Monitoring and Response Systems to detect and prevent child labor in their supply chains. And knowing about this phenomenon will enable us to buy chocolate from producers that are free of child labor.

As we become more aware of the ongoing nature of child labor, we can further help end it by sharing this knowledge with family and friends. This process doesn’t have to be confrontational; Instead, we can personalize the message by connecting the issue of child labor to our personal values. We would also work to save our children if they were forced into dangerous work situations at a young age.

2. Support journalists who highlight child labour

Journalism can often be a form of advocacy that can push for social change to curb child labor. From 1908 to 1924, American investigative photographer Lewis Hine documented children working in factories across the United States. With over 5,000 photos later exhibited by the National Child Labor Committee, Hine played a crucial role in bringing the plight of child laborers into the public consciousness, which eventually led to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which defined the worst forms of child labor in America eliminated .

We can help journalists make discoveries that inform the public. The first simple step is to open their article and spend more time reading it. The number of views and time spent on each webpage lets the media know which topics are resonating with their audience. We can also share journalistic accounts with friends and colleagues, helping to increase the reach of the article. Finally, we can post encouraging comments on journalists’ social media posts to let them know that people appreciate their discoveries.

3. Make ethical investments

Another method is for individual and institutional investors to assess the ethical implications of their investments. Child labor exists because of the perceived economic benefits of exploiting low-income children. By cutting investment in these producers that exploit children, investors not only send a clear signal against human rights abusers, but also fundamentally eliminate the economic drivers of child labor.

Investors can develop quantitative social responsibility metrics that capture employee safety, average wages and the average age of workers in companies. Individual investors can also use public databases to assess a company’s human rights record and ensure they are investing in companies that meet their own ethical standards.

4. Advocate a labeling initiative to certify products

Civil society organizations can push for a universal labeling initiative that certifies products free of child labour. Such a label would allow consumers to identify and buy ethical products in an open marketplace and provide direct economic incentives for companies to end child labor in their global supply chains.

Several non-governmental organizations are currently running voluntary certification programs, such as the GoodWeave certification label founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi. Nevertheless, these efforts would have more impact if they were integrated into a unified and cross-border certification system.

abolition of child labour

“No parent should ever look at a young child and fear that one day that child will become a victim of exploitative child labor,” John Kerry said on World Day Against Child Labor in 2016. He was right. Eliminating child labor should be a shared moral responsibility of civil society, business and governments. With these concrete steps, each of us, regardless of our professional skills, can make a contribution to ending child labor.

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