‘As public pressure mounts, the momentum is shifting toward positive change: from denial to ownership and from finger pointing to collaborative action’ – The US Department of Labour recently published a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor . In this document positive examples to fight child labour are highlighted, notably collaboration between stakeholders.
Child Labour in Agriculture
The recent findings confirm that the goods which contribute most heavily to child labour are bricks, gold, sugarcane, cotton, coffee, tobacco and cattle. Agriculture still tops the list as the sector with the most child labour, making up 74 percent of all child labour. The report outlines effective, collaborative approaches which have contributed to the removal of 94 million children from labour in the last two decades. Global estimates and data enable us to understand the full scope of child labour, the ‘vulnerabilites’ for prevention and to evaluate which solutions provide the most impact.
Collaboration for impact
Collaboration has real impact in the fight against child labour across sectors according to examples from the US Department of Labor, which highlight the importance of working with governments, companies, civil society and multi-lateral bodies. Key examples in chocolate and cocoa production in West Africa of public-private partnerships have shown how companies have made pledges to sustainably source cocoa in their supply chains and worked with civil society to implement them. Collaboration enables the transition to other crops, which can, with adequate support, actively contribute to the elimination of child labour. Promoting viable, high-value crops offers farmers a realistic choice to reinvest.
In Uzbekistan, findings in the US Department of Labor document suggest that a plan adopted by the government to eliminate child labour in cotton through increasing crop diversification, increasing the procurement price, mechanising the harvest and allowing textile companies to vertically integrate into cotton farming, contributed to the significant removal of child labour in the production of this good. Switching to alternative crops, in this example, was done in a sustainable and comprehensive manner. ECLT has been supporting farmers in tobacco-growing communities to learn better farming techniques and diversify crops for several years.. Although this has had successes in some countries, it cannot be singled out to be applied in every context. This video shows some of the challenges faced by farmers transitioning away from tobacco after-market shifts in Kyrgyzstan.
Commitment needed to move forward
Reports like the annual USDOL list of products that are made with child and forced labour are important benchmarks for progress and reminders that there are still many changes needed in the fight against child labour. As we look ahead, ECLT will continue to work with partners to help translate the national commitment to end child labour into tangible benefits for children and communities to provide effective and sustainable solutions to ending child labour. This calls for increasing collaboration and cooperation because no actor can solve child labour alone.