How Can We Help Child Labour? 7 Actions You Can Implement Now

Almost one in ten of all children worldwide are in child labour.

 It is huge! Can you imagine if one out of 10 of the kids you know were forced to work under awful conditions?

The simple idea of my little brother enslaved makes me sick. Still in some ways, you might be contributing to child labour.

In that blog post, I will define share definitions, facts and give 7 ideas to answer the question “How Can We Help Child Labour?”

What Is Child Labour?

First, we should keep in mind, that all forms of work accomplished by a kid is not child labour. Some children work before they are 18 years old, perfectly legally even in western countries. The difference lies the in impact of the work on the child’s life. Working is ok, as long as it does not interfere with a child’s development.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), “Child labour is work that children should not be doing because they are too young, or if they are old enough to work, because it is dangerous or unsuitable for them. Whether or not work performed by children is defined as child labour depends on the child’s age, the hours and type of work and the conditions in which the work is performed. »

Thus, the definition remains blurry and depends on the countries we investigate. But it should not be overlooked or over simplified because the situation remains horrific in 2020. Indeed, when we speak child labour, we also discuss human trafficking, child prostitution, child soldier’s recruitment…

Another type of extreme child labour is called, Hazardous child labour. It happens when a child works in dangerous or unhealthy conditions that could result in him/her being killed or injured or made ill as a consequence of poor safety and health standards and working arrangements.

Child Labour Facts

According to ILO, in 2016:

  • 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were in child labour, almost half them, 73 million, in hazardous child labour.
  • Almost half (48 per cent) of the victims of child labour were aged 5-11 years; 28 per cent were 12-14 years old; and 24 per cent were 15-17 years old.
  • Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71 per cent) – this includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture – 17 per cent in services; and 12 per cent in the Industrial sector, including mining.

“Luckily” all the efforts to reduce child labour worldwide are working. Indeed, “Between 2000 and 2016 alone, there was a 38 per cent decrease in child labour globally.” So we are improving but there is still a lot to do.

The UN stated in 2019 that 2021 will be the year marking the end of child labour: Members States’ commit “to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”

What Brands Are Still Using Child Labour In 2020?

Nestlé: They use child labour from their Ghana and Ivory Coast-based cocoa farms.

H&M: they have been using child labour in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Microsoft: child labour is apparently used to extract cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Sports direct: Their factories in Myanmar use child labour

Apple: the company admitted that its best-selling iPhone X product was being made by schoolchildren.

New Look: They were involved in the Myanmar factory scandals like H&M and Sports Direct

Hershey’s: Like Nestlé, it has run into serious labour exploitation problems on their west African cocoa farms; 

Read more about those brands practices.

How Can We Help Child Labour?

Educate yourself and others

Education is the starting point to every action you take and decision you make. Share what you learn with people around you to create awareness.

Spot The Brands That Use Child Labour

Learn how to spot child labour on brands’ websites. If they take any action to avoid human trafficking, modern slavery and child labour, it is surely stated somewhere on their website.

Contact brands and stores

If you do not find the answers on the websites, ask your questions directly to brands. Question them about their practices but also their partners’ ones. For instance, a jewellery brand can produce its pieces ethically but maybe their gold suppliers are involved in child labour during the mining. Read more about gold production here

Buy fair trade

To be certified fair trade, a business must comply to ILO standards. It is a safe way to guarantee there is no child labour involved in the production and trade of the products you buy.

Pressure brands involved in child labour to stop.

Email them or blame them on socials, whatever works for you.

How Can We Help Child Labour? Invest ethically.

If you are an investor, make sure you invest in projects that do not use child labour to make money. Think about your bank and saving accounts as well. Your savings are invested by your bank so you might want to review how your bank uses your money.

I hope this blog post was eye opening. We often think that child labour belongs to the past or that we have nothing to do with it. However, in our ultra-connected world, the choices we make in developed countries have a direct impact on the living conditions in developing countries. Once again, you vote with your dollars. Think carefully what brand you support and how they interact with third parties all along the supply chain.