Reflective Thoughts on the World Day Against Child Labor

Photo of a child working highlighting the World Day Against Child Labor

NEW YORK, NY – Not only is June 12 the World Day Against Child Labor, but 2021 has also been proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor.

Photy by M. Costanzo (CC BY 2.0)

The United Nations Global Compact is focusing on the issue of child labor. The Compact is a voluntary collaboration of 12,000 companies and 3,000 non-business entities from 160 nations. Together, they comprise “the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. In conjunction with the International Labor Organization, the Compact issued a joint statement in January 2021, saying,

“We will work with all our participants this year to step up their due diligence on human rights. To identify, prevent, mitigate and account for all adverse human rights impacts in their operations and value chains, which will help tackle child labor and forced labor. Making a real impact will require adopting a holistic approach and collaborating with all stakeholders.”

World Days are generally described as observances, commemorations, or celebrations. There is a great deal of encouragement to be found in this alliance’s commitment to take effective actions that reduce the occurrence of child labor.

The International Labor Organization and the UN have established a goal to end child labor by 2025. We anticipate that they will be issuing revised child labor statistics so that we can measure the progress toward that goal.

“We hope that this will be one more step to redouble our efforts and our progress to advance, day by day, towards a world in which no child is subjected to child labor or exploitation.” – Martín García Moritán, Former Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations

We already know that, at last count, the number of child laborers has been reduced by 100 million over the past two decades.

The problem is that there are still an estimated 152 million children actively working.

It would take an extraordinary plan and unprecedented action to see another 100 million child laborers reduced over the next four years, when it took 20 years to accomplish that before.

Progress will not be easy, even with the combined resources of the UN Global Compact. For one thing, businesses – just like governments – have got to have more than the will to ensure that children are not among their employees. The larger the company, the less likely they are able to ensure complete compliance. The smaller the company, the less likely they are to care.

For another thing, the giants of industry – supply chain culmination points – are not yet capable of adequately auditing or enforcing child labor laws at every link or tier of their chain.

Third, the existence of child_labor creates a dynamic tension between education and survival. The hue and cry of well-intentioned people, governments, and NGOs around the globe is raised against child labor because it robs children of the education they need. Yet, as UNICEF’s Astrid Hollander has said, “Child_labor [is] a survival mechanism for many families.”

Parents and children worldwide would likely favor the option of obtaining a good education, except at the expense of survival. When a child becomes a necessary or only source of family income, the entire family typically accepts the trade-off.

In the meantime, we must remain focused on sharing the Good News of God’s salvation available through Jesus Christ for all of His creation.

Missions Box News plans to publish the updated child labor statistics as soon as they become available. In the meantime, here is a link to an in-depth report on the “Millions of Children Trapped between Extreme Poverty and the Profits of Others.”

Read more news on the Child Labor and Children’s Education on Missions Box.


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