On June 12, we commemorated World Day Against Child Labour with this year’s theme calling for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to protect children from child labour.
Did you know that an estimated 160 million children – some as young as five – worldwide are robbed of their childhoods and forced to work to survive? Children not only deserve to have a childhood, but they also deserve our protection.
That accounts for one in 10 children, and nearly half of these children (79 million) work in hazardous conditions that threaten their health and safety, with known data estimating that up to 22,000 child labourers die at work.
Although children worldwide are routinely engaged in unharmful paid and unpaid work, they are considered child labourers when they are too young to work or engage in hazardous activities that compromise their physical, mental, social, or educational development.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “In its most extreme forms, child labour involves enslaved children, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses, and are left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at an incredibly early age.
“Whether or not particular forms of ‘work’ can be called ‘child labour’ depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions it is performed, and the objectives pursued by individual countries.”
However, while governments work towards tackling global systems to prevent child labour, how can the average individual contribute and help to #EndChildLabour? Keep scrolling to find out!
1. Educate yourself about the issue
We’re fortunate to live in the internet age, where information and opportunities for discourse are readily available at our fingertips. So, let’s explore and engage in conversations about child labour to help enhance our understanding of the issue and the challenges we face in tackling them.
2. Become a conscientious consumer
Often, we don’t realise how habits and actions contribute to the detriment of our world, including our purchasing decisions. For example, you may be surprised to discover that your favourite brands knowingly or unknowingly employ child labour in their global supply chain. Our duty as consumers is to support fair trade and be conscious of the origins of the products we purchase.
Some familiar brands that have come under fire in the past decade include H&M, Nestle, Microsoft, Sports Direct, and more. As these brands expand their supply chains worldwide, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and ensure ethical business practices. However, corporations must implement the necessary checks and balances and be held responsible for things that slip through the cracks.
3. Support NGOs and organisations that are hard at work to end child labour
Whether volunteering at events or lending your time, skills, or voice to the cause, non-profits fighting for human and child rights issues can ALWAYS use the additional support. Even if your support is an action as simple as re-sharing awareness content on your social media pages, connect with your local organisations that are fighting to end child labour in your district and find out how you can help.
4. Sponsor a child’s education
Children forced into labour are not only deprived of the innocence of childhood; they’re also deprived of their fundamental human right to receive a quality education that equips and empowers them to succeed in the world. Education is crucial for breaking cycles of poverty and creating a more sustainable world, so why not give a child somewhere in the world the opportunity to learn and improve their life?
From global organisations (UNICEF, UNESCO, Save the Children, and Plan International, among others) to smaller local non-profits, many organisations are determined to educate the world’s children to which you can lend your support.
5. Make ethical investments
Make ethical investments. As an investor or shareholder, make a stand and limit your support to companies that incorporate sustainable and ethical human practices that do not include child labour.
6. Spread awareness
Don’t stop at educating yourself about child labour; spread the word! Whether in your daily conversations or through your social media presence, every effort to help raise awareness about child labour counts.
Putting an end to insidious child labour practices won’t be easy. However, each of us can make choices to help improve conditions for children, reduce our contribution to child labour, and facilitate an end to children’s oppression and exploitation.
“The change starts within each one of us, and ends only when all children are free to be children.” – Craig Kielburger