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USDOL findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour 2021:

“Eradicating child labor involves not just withdrawing children from child labor but making their families less vulnerable and more resilient. That means strengthening the voice and bargaining power of their parents in the workplace so that they have sustainable alternatives to child labor.” shared Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor of the United States.

The new Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor reveals some of critical obstacles slowing progress towards the elimination of child labour, and some of the meaningful efforts carried out in certain States. Below, we have summarised some of the key findings from the report.

Some key gaps have slowed progress in the last few years

Findings from the USDOL report highlighted that remaining gaps in access to quality education and a lack of access to social programmes and key global trends such as the pandemic, have left children and their families even more vulnerable to becoming involved in child labour.

Quality education

In the past few years, the USDOL notes that there has been little to no progress in getting and keeping children in school. 40 million children aged between 5 to 11 who are involved in child labour do not attend school, this makes up 1 in 4 children are not receiving the education that they will need to access decent work. The USDOL reports that in 37 percent of all the countries and territories assessed this year saw declines in primary school completion rates from 2012-2015 to 2016-2019. COVID-19 is likely to have driven millions more children out-of-education and into child labour, we need to start taking urgent action now to get children back into school and away from dangerous work in the fields so that they can access decent work as an adult.

Social programmes

In recent years, on a global scale, there has been a decrease in financial investment in projects designed to tackle child labour according to the USDOL. This partnered with limited social programs has created barriers for education, birth registration, a lack of child labour statics and social program implementation. Many gaps remain, but the USDOL has recommended key elements to support Government’s to advance progress in the fight against child labour.

Impact of covid

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the underlying drivers. The disruption to international supply chains, the increase in unemployment rates, and school closures all had a significant impact on living standards, poverty rates, and, of course, child labour. For families with poor access to healthcare, and those living with underlying conditions, many had no choice but to send their children to work to support household’s livelihood. For those who have recovered, health care costs may be high, causing further financial stress meaning children remain at risk.

Stronger systems are needed to drive progress

The USDOL highlighted key areas of action States need to take to make significant progress in the elimination of child labour. These make up an integrated system which drive sustainable change and includes the following:

  • Funding for social programmes which tackle the root causes of child labour (for example education, poverty reduction etc)
  • Putting Legislation to Action: take an active measure to investigate, prosecute, convict, and those who participate in or facilitate the worst forms of child labor, designate a competent authority or institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor
  • Establishing a legal framework to prohibit the worst forms of child labour, child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and forced labour. A minimum age for hazardous work and a minimum age for employment must also be established meeting international standards.

Read the report for more findings and the details of concrete examples of meaningful efforts from around the world here.