Working towards eradicating child labour

By Mariane Gravelle June 13, 201713 June 2017

Working towards eradicating child labour


It’s an uncomfortable notion to entertain: the idea that the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the technology that makes our lives easier each day may have been brought to reality – in one small way or another – by the hands of a child. Rare are those who want to support child labour but the fact remains that it still endures, even in 2017.

June 12 – the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) World Day Against Child Labour – offers the opportunity to shine a light on this practice. A report by the same organization offers an insight into the prevalence of – and current trends in – child labour around the world. Examining data collected from 2000-2012, the ILO estimates that 168 million – or 11 per cent – of the world’s children are engaged in some form of child labour. The organization has been collecting data with the view of “eliminating all the worst forms of child labour by 2016”. When the report was published in 2013, the ILO expressed doubt regarding the achievement of that goal and urged the international community to increase their efforts to reduce child labour.

In line with these recommendations, a CBA resolution addresses child labour and “[urges] Canadian lawyers and businesses to adopt and implement their own business and supply chain principles consistent with the Model Business Principles” outlined by the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA). In a nutshell, these Model Business Principles encourage businesses to adopt practices that prohibit child labour, conduct assessments of their organizations, provide training to employees and devise remediation plans for forced and harmful labour.

While the notion of continuing child labour is disheartening, the ILO report does provide a glimmer of hope that the world is steadily working towards eradicating child labour. It reveals that

There were almost 78 million fewer child labourers at the end of this period than at the beginning, a reduction of almost one-third. The fall in girls in child labour was particularly pronounced –there was a reduction of 40 per cent in the number of girls in child labour as compared to 25 per cent for boys. The total number of children in hazardous work, which comprises by far the largest share of those in the worst forms of child labour, declined by over half. Also progress was especially pronounced among younger children, with child labour for this group falling by over one third between 2000 and 2012. The decline in child labour was greatest during the most recent four-year period (2008-2012). The Asia and the Pacific region registered by far the largest absolute decline in child labour among 5-17 year-olds for the 2008-2012.

Continues the report, “[though] significant progress has been made, the scourge of child labour in the foreseeable future is going to require a substantial acceleration of efforts at all levels. There are 168 million good reasons to do so.” To learn more about a few of those 168 million “reasons” – such as 13-year-old shoemaker Jatin, 12-year-old factory worker Bithi, or 10-year-old Klodi, who dreams of being a doctor – visit the World Vision hosted “No child for sale” website.

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