International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor

In 2021, Save the Children will intensify our programming and advocacy to keep children safe from child labor and get children safely back to school and learning. We’ll do this by focusing on the link between child protection and social protection systems and measures, supply chain monitoring and remediation mechanisms, while capturing and sharing learnings and promoting the best interests of the child.  These efforts will form Save the Children’s contribution to ending child labor in all its forms by 2025. 

Learn more about the International Year for the Elimination Child Labor and Alliance 8.7 here.  

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COVID-19 and Child Labor

  •  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global economy, triggering the deepest global recession in decades, including estimates of up to 150 million people being pushed into poverty[1].

  • Across the world people face severe economic stressors such as a reduction in household income, increased debt, and the illness or death of breadwinners, subsequently increasing risks to children while creating additional barriers to accessing protective services.

  • Without urgent action to protect families, the number of children living in monetary-poor households is likely to soar. The total number of children living in poor households globally could reach just over 700 million in the absence of any mitigating policies[2].

  • Worldwide, an estimated 152 million children are in child labor, almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labor [3]. 

  • Many children are out of school and economic pressures on families continue to grow. This could push millions of children into child labor and makes child labor an imminent concern.

Learn more about our COVID-19 response here.  

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Addressing Child Labor in Smallholder Agriculture Value Chains  

Globally, it is estimated that 152 million children are involved in child labor, accounting for nearly 1 in 10 children worldwide. Over 70% of child labor cases, representing over 100 million children globally, are found in agriculture.
 

As a global leader in children’s rights, Save the Children seeks to partner with corporations to reduce incidents of child labor in the agriculture sector by strengthening communities, supporting smallholder farming cooperatives, advocating for policy and regulatory change, and reinforcing monitoring and remediation systems designed to identify and eliminate child labor from supply chains.

Save the Children is available to partner with corporations to:

  1. Conduct supply chain assessments and provide technical guidance so companies can improve their business practices to children’s rights and child labor. 
  2. Implement a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS)
  3. Implement CLMRS and holistic community-based interventions to address the root causes of child labor
  4. Implement holistic community-based interventions designed to support companies existing CLMRS 
  5. Community-level coordination of public and private actors addressing child labor 

Learn about our corporate partnerships here

For More Information on Smallholder Agriculture Value Chain Partnerships Contact: corporate@savechildren.org

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Save the Children Indonesia

Rosmawati (40 years old) is the head of the Community Based Child Protection Committee (PATBM) in Lompo Loang Village, Pitumpanua Sub-district, Wajo District. When collecting data in the field, she was shocked to learn that, based on the data, children were put in a very vulnerable condition. 

“Basically, all parents, especially those who are farmers, know that they must protect their children from danger. However, they do not realize that there are little things that can be harmful for their children,” she explained. 

For instance, Rosmawati shared that several farmers allow their children to apply fertilizer and spray pesticide. “That is one harmful example related to the job. Further, such an activity will harm children’s future if they need to skip school to help their parents in the farm,” she said. “In fact, if you look closer, you will realize that involving children in risky jobs will not provide you with the desired outcomes,” she added. “How many cocoa pods do you think children can crack open with machetes at a time? Adults can do it so much faster. I think that is a simple comparison we can make.” 

Now, the reality has changed. Some farmers, who now realize the importance of education for their children, have stopped them from working on the farms.  

When farmers have extra work to do, they hire someone else to do the pruning and to apply fertilizer. In Wajo, workers can be hired through a day labor system. Each worker can make 70,000 to 80,000 rupiah ($4.90-$5.60) per day. 

Normally, farmers will hire several people, which sometimes, include children. Ultimately, the farm owner will not be able to control such a system. 

“Junior high students (children aged 12 to 15 years old) are often involved in day labor. One of the reasons is that they want to earn extra pocket money,” Rosmawati said.

Now, how can the PATBM address these high-risk practices? In Tangkoro Village, Muhammad Tahir, who is the head of PATBM program there, reintroduced the spirit of cooperation (gotong royong) among the members of farmer group. They take turns to help each other with fertilizing and pruning. 

“If the farm is not too large and can be taken care of within a day, we will move to the next farm the following day. It saves money and puts our agricultural practices in check,” he said. “At least, we do not ask children to work under the cocoa trees, which is risky.” 

“When I walk around the farms and/or the village, and I see a child doing dangerous work, I will drop by the house and talk to the child’s parents. Whatever that work is, I will try to tell them that it is dangerous for their child,” he added. “Normally, parents will tell their children to be careful. At the very least, these parents become aware of the reality.” 

The activities commenced by farmer groups in these several villages across Wajo District and Bone District are a collective initiative to raise awareness, aimed at establishing a child-friendly space. 

Rosmanawati is a beneficiary of a child labor monitoring and remediation project supported by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate in Indonesia, in partnership with Save the Children. This initiative is part of The Cargill Cocoa Promise, Cargill’s global sustainability commitment to ensure a thriving and sustainable cocoa sector for generations to come. 

A boy in a blue shirt and red collar looks at the camera.

"The bridging school I attend is closer to my home than my previous school. Here, they don't hit us like in my previous school and I also like the notebooks and bags given to us. I like being at school because when I am not at school I am in the field. "

Koffi Kouadio is a student from one of Save the Children International’s bridging classes in Okabo, a cocoa-growing zone of Côte d'Ivoire and the implementation area of the Work No Child Business project. 

Save the Children Mexico has worked for over 10 years to implement measures in the agricultural and garment industries to prevent child labor. Our work has not only been with corporations and their supply chains, but also with related communities through community development programs.

EL CENTRO PARA LOS DERECHOS DE LA NIÑEZ EN LAS EMPRESAS

This year the Centro para los Derechos de la NIñez en las Empresas will begin operations mirroring the work The Center has done in Asia for corporations in Mexico and Latin America.  El Centro will a) Assess risks factors for children and young workers, b) Create programs and workshops to comply with national and international regulations on child rights, c) Conduct trainings on human rights and d) Offer remediation services.  

GRUPO RECTOR (Rector Group) 

Save the Children in Mexico has reached out to top brands in Mexico and formed a working group, called Grupo Rector, to develop joint strategies to prevent and eradicate child labor. Together with the Grupo Rector, in 2021 Save the Children in Mexico have been working to create a basic toolkit for SMEs along the supply chain to start introducing practices to prevent child labor in their operation. The toolkit with include a Code of Conduct template, a Statement to Prevent & Eradicate Child Labor, Self-Assessment Tools, and tools to Audit Suppliers.

COMMUNICATION AND POLITICAL INCIDENCE

Save the Children Mexico works in parallel with labor authorities to strengthen their skills. It is also doing campaigns on social media to raise awareness with the general public through the hashtag #NinezLibredeTrabajo (childhood labor free)

Footnotes: 

1)  MSN. (2020). World Bank chief warns extreme poverty could surge by 100 million, August 20; https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/10/07/covid-19-to-add-as-many-as-150-million-extreme-poor-by-2021  

2) UNICEF (2020) Child poverty and COVID-19

3)  The ILO will release new global figures on the prevalence on child labor this year around the 12th of June, World day against child labor. Source of the current figures: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/18326/pdf/covid-19_and_child_labour_annex_final.pdf  

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