WE CharityAn organization originally founded to stop child labor, WE Charity has since shifted its focus to addressing the leading causes of child labor and poverty, such as health care, education and job opportunities. Since 1995, WE Charity has helped millions of people both domestically and internationally by providing opportunities to make an impact on social issues around the world. WE Schools, WE Day, WE Villages and ME to WE are all sub-organizations that help to promote WE Charity’s mission to empower all people to help change the world. These are seven ways that WE Charity is making an impact.

7 Ways WE Charity is Making an Impact

  1. WE Charity aims to end child labor and poverty by focusing on the underlying causes, such as lack of access to clean water and health care, food insecurity and lack of education and job opportunities. WE Schools works domestically to help students understand social issues by providing curricular resources and professional development opportunities for educators as well as mentorship programs for students. WE Villages works internationally in developing countries to provide opportunities for improved independence in local communities.
  2. WE Charity provides various programs to ensure that communities have access to a wide range of educational backgrounds and career opportunities. These programs are offered to everyone—although they do focus more on women and girls—and include areas like animal husbandry, vocational training, leadership skills training, business and financial literacy and artisan projects. Over 30,000 women have been given the tools to maintain financial independence and provide for their families.
  3. WE Charity provides access to preventative health care and works to enhance health care programs that are already in place. It has helped to provide medical supplies, health awareness workshops and clinical resources. Over 130,000 patients have been helped in Kenya alone.
  4. WE Villages is a modern, sustainable development model that focuses on five pillars they claim are imperative for community development. These pillars are education, water, health, food and opportunity. WE Villages partners with communities in over nine countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to provide sustainable community development.
  5. WE Villages has provided over 1,500 schools in partnered communities, allowing more than 200,000 children the opportunity to receive an education. One million people have better access to safe water and sanitation. Farmers located within WE Villages have helped to deliver over 15 million meals to local families.
  6. ME to WE is an offshoot organization that has created employment and economic opportunities for over 2,000 people in WE Village communities. Not only does it help provide financial opportunities in the communities, but it also provides a sustainable source of funding for WE Charity. Over the past five years, ME to WE has donated an average of 90 percent of profits to WE Charity, which is then reinvested into the charity and its programs.
  7. WE Charity hopes to double its impact over the next five years. Currently, it has impacted 12,300 schools and 2.3 million youth participants through the WE Schools program, but it hopes to reach 24,000 schools and 4.8 million students over the next few years. WE also hopes to double the amount of WE Villages from 50 to over 100 within the same timeline.

Together with its partner charities, WE Charity is working to raise awareness for a variety of social issues as well as focusing on putting an end to poverty and child labor. WE Charity has already helped millions of people by providing sustainable communities, access to healthcare, better education and safe water. Over the next several years they hope to double the number of people they have reached and make an even bigger impact around the world.

– Jessica Winarski
Photo: Unsplash

child labor in Ghana

Ghana, a small African country nestled between Togo and Ivory Coast, is one of the highest achieving nations in the sub-Saharan region. It is the world’s second-largest producer of both cocoa beans and gold, and this generative economy has propelled much of the Ghanaian population out of poverty.

While ahead in some regards, Ghanaian children are still subject to human trafficking. According to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, over 152 million children around the world are forced into the workforce. Africa is among the worst offending areas, and as such, brings child labor in Ghana to international concern.

Child labor is a National Issue

Currently, one out of every six children is involved in child labor in Ghana. Offending sectors are numerous and widespread; 88 percent of children work in agriculture, typically harvesting cocoa beans, while 2.3 percent are fishermen. Others are subjected to domestic or sexual work.

Many Ghanaian children participate in child labor due to desperation and ignorance. While free public education is available in Ghana, many families cannot afford the uniforms and books required to enroll in school. Poverty is, therefore, cyclical in these circumstances – much more than cheap labor is being exchanged. A child is also selling his or her childhood, dignity and future potential to their traffickers.

Lake Volta Region

Lake Volta is the largest man-made lakes in the sub-Saharan region. It is notoriously known as an area where the worst forms of child labor prosper. Here, one-third of children between the ages of seven and 14 work full-time.

Children are valued workers on Lake Volta because their labor is affordable and efficient. Recently, the lake’s fish population has decreased considerably. Fishermen, therefore, do not have the financial means to accommodate other sources of labor. Furthermore, children provide the nimble fingers needed to untangle fish from the minuscule-sized holes in fishing nets.

Aside from posing as a serious human rights violation, work on Lake Volta is quite dangerous for Ghanaian children. Nets often get stuck on objects underneath the surface. This forces children to go diving in order to prevent tears in the nets. Drowning is a concern, as well as contracting several illnesses including bilharzia and guinea worm.

Government Effort

The central government made several, moderate efforts to control the unbridled child labor in Ghana. In 2017, the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Human Trafficking was enacted. With it, the government identified itself as an entity against the exploitation of its young generation. Children working in mines are a specific concern for the government, as mercury poisoning is prevalent among workers in this sector. Feeding programs have also been instilled in schools and refugee camps in order to protect children from malnourishment.

These efforts, while well-intentioned, are not efficiently enforced in the country. This leaves many children in enslavement, or at risk of falling into this dark reality.

International Action

Child labor is a human rights violation to which the international community has responded with animosity and vigor. There are countless organizations working to end all forms of child labor and trafficking.

APPLE is just one NGO that specifically works to hinder the growth of child labor in Ghana. This organization has stationed itself in fishing villages around the Lake Volta region. Their efforts to eliminate child labor compromises of immediate and long-term solutions. The banning of nets with small holes is believed to decrease the value of children on the lake, and education is provided in order to warn families of the calamities that human trafficking inflicts.

While the sub-Saharan region is not the only area that violates international human rights laws, child labor in Ghana is on the rise. Efforts to protect the most innocent collection of the population need to be mobilized with the utmost zeal. These children need aid in order to liberate, educate and relocate those displaced by this practice.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Iran

Child labor is defined by the International Labor Organization as the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood and interferes “with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful.” The Human Rights Watch estimates that around 70 million children around the world are currently working in hazardous conditions across many sectors, including agriculture, mining and domestic labor. Unfortunately, in Iran, the number of child laborers continues to grow. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about child labor in Iran.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Iran

  1. As of 2012, around 11 percent of children in Iran were engaged in some form of illegal work. Under Iranian law, it is illegal to work under the age of 15. However, due to circumstances like poverty and organized crime, this law is not often followed. Often, criminal groups force children to sell items or beg on the street, and research shows that in some cases children as young as 3 years old have fallen victim to this kind of labor. Some children are forced to swallow packets of drugs and cross the border of Iran to excrete them. Many have died in this process. Additionally, children’s bodies have been found abandoned without certain organs in remote areas of Iran.
  2. Poverty is a major contributor to child labor in Iran, as homelessness increases a child’s vulnerability. The government reports that more than 60,000 children live on the streets in Iran. This makes it easier for perpetrators to target children who are in desperate need of food and shelter, especially if the parents are absent. In fact, About 60 percent of child laborers in Iran are the only source of income for their families.
  3. The problem is so vast that officials believe it cannot be handled by one single entity. In April 2018, Reza Jafari, the director of the Iran Welfare Organization’s office, said that “child workers are so numerous that no organization can single-handedly cope with the problem.” Government officials are working to tackle the issue from several angles, including welcoming outside help from nonprofits.
  4. Child labor has declined globally but is on the rise in Iran. Since 2000, the world has seen its child labor rate drop by a third, while Iran has experienced the opposite. Vice president of the Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights Tahereh Pazhuhesh said in June 2018 “despite the global reduction in the child labor statistics, we see child labor surge in Iran.” The worsening problem illustrates the urgent need for help in the area, as it is more and more common to see children working in sweatshops, markets, farms and more.
  5. Government officials believe that 90 percent of child laborers have been sexually assaulted. Reza Ghadimi, managing director of social services at the Organization of Tehran Municipality, released this statistic on a state-run news agency report in October 2017. He added that many of these children are also exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.
  6. The rate of HIV infection is higher for child laborers is higher than the average. The head of the AIDs Research Center of Iran, Dr. Minou Mohraz, said “the rate of HIV infection among Iran child laborers and street children is 45 times higher than the average.” Additionally, these children are often exposed to other sexually transmitted diseases such as Hepatitis B.
  7. While Iran’s government has banned child labor, state-sponsored institutions still hire child workers. Municipality contractors often recruit children aged 5 to 15 years old because they can pay them less. In fact, because children are less aware of their rights as workers, they can be paid up to 70 percent less than adults. Waste management is one industry that employs a particularly high number of children. This is especially dangerous because as Tehran City-Councilwoman Elham Eftekhari noted, “these children not only work but also live and sleep in garbage factories that are filled with vermin and odors.”
  8. The ILIA Foundation is looking to help, and the presence of NGOs in big cities like Tehran is on the rise. The organization are focusing their efforts on the root of the problem, which is extreme poverty. The ILIA Foundation is opening more outreach centers, which provide shelter and hands-on education for struggling children. The Foundation also partnered with U.N. refugee and health agencies to tackle the issue from all angles.
  9. UNICEF is working with the government to address the root of the problem. The group works with political leaders and focuses on promoting good parenting, as well as enhancing the State Welfare Organization’s capacity to monitor the problem. It also aims to improve Iran’s Child Protection in Emergency’s coordination mechanism.
  10. The Imam Ali Popular Students Relief Society is bringing a new approach to helping the street children of Iran. The group, which is recognized by the U.N., was organized in 2010 and has already gathered 12,000 volunteers to help its cause. The organization holds events for the children, like sports events, to bring them positivity and hope. Meysam Vahdei, the group’s head of sports, said “the only choice for most of these kids in their neighborhoods is violence, poverty and mis.ery. We have tried to give them self-confidence through sports to improve their lives.”

Child labor in Iran is not only a serious issue but a worsening one. These facts about child labor in Iran demonstrate the critical need for aid in the region. Poverty is at the heart of the problem and organizations are working to reduce these extreme conditions, in turn getting the children the help they need.

– Natalie Malek
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in MoroccoOutside of tourists’ eyes, child labor still operates throughout Morocco in the form of forced labor and agricultural work. Little choice resides in the child, his or her guardians signing the contract instead. Some children, however, do make a choice to enlist themselves, previously working at younger ages and unable to find another way to make a living. Below are 10 facts about child labor in Morocco describing its harshness and prevalence.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Morocco

  1. Worst Forms of Child Labor: The Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (Convention No. 182) established a list of the worst activities a child could work. Some categories this list included were forced domestic work and begging. UNESCO data shows that 4.5 percent of children ages 10 to 14 work, which equates to 150,178 children. These kids participate in the listed worst activities including working in illegal sand extraction, restaurants or houses and begging for food and money.
  2. Female Child Labor and Sex Trafficking: The families of rural Moroccan girls between the ages of 6 and 15 often send them to work in homes in Morocco and other African countries. They are often vulnerable to abuse in these situations, and in some cases, commercial sexual exploitation.
  3. Lack of Education: Besides the unfortunate act of trafficking, children in Morocco face other blockages that prevent them from obtaining a fulfilling education. Living long distances from established schools, including a lack of security and fees for attending school limits the inclusiveness of rural or disabled children. The requirement of a present birth certificate for higher schooling adds to the blockade. This lack of education forces children into labor.
  4. Domestic Work Provides Loopholes for Employers: The Morocco Labor Code allows a maximum of 44 hours a week; however, this limit does not cover domestic workers. In interviews with the Human Rights Watch (a nonprofit organization that investigates human rights), girls reported that they sometimes work 100 hours a week with no breaks or days off. One even detailed a task from 6 a.m. until midnight. Parents and middlemen often lie to the girls, presenting the employers as kind people and working conditions as favorable.
  5. Salaries Almost Never go to the Kids: Interviews that the Human Rights Watch conducted with children showed that parents and employers negotiated almost all agreements to work. Most children received no wages at all, with all wages going to the parents or guardians. Furthermore, the monthly salary that the children in domestic work earned totaled only $61 on average. In Morocco’s industrial sector, salaries reach up to $261 per month.
  6. Self-Employed Children Do Not Follow the Labor Code: Similar to domestic work, Morocco cannot enforce the 44-hour limit for children who work as artisans or ones who even tend to private farms. These children risk exploitation and some may even feel obligated to work overtime in their self-employed job to cover expenses for their families.
  7. Work in Other Industries Can Also be Dangerous: Besides domestic work, some children operate in carpentry or repairing automobiles. Children use dangerous tools daily, exposing them to dust, chemicals and loud noise. Cutting trees, another option for work, involves the use of dangerous equipment and tools as well. Meanwhile, fishing presents a danger for children because they could drown. While some jobs are less binding than others, children still unwittingly expose themselves to constant risks.
  8. Morocco’s Trafficking Spreads to Other Countries: Reports detail that child prostitution not only occurs in local cities but in the capital and coastal ones as well, Rabat and Casablanca among the list. Both boys and girls fall victim to sex tourism in sites attracting customers from the Persian Gulf and Europe. Traffickers send children to these countries for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Children put themselves up for prostitution, usually previous victims of domestic service unable to find shelter.
  9. Labor Inspectors May Solve Some Dilemmas: One challenge is that there is a lack of people to monitor the working conditions of children. The Human Rights Watch suggested effective methods including identifying and removing underage children from households and studying the conditions of those with appropriate age. These recommendations have yet to gain traction, though. With these, however, investigators could enforce the law, and fine or arrest employers that do not follow limitations set in place.
  10. The Situation is Improving…Somewhat: In 2017, the government supported the Law on Setting Up Employment Conditions of Domestic Workers. This passed bill restricts the recruitment of children between the ages of 16 and 18 for domestic work. Morocco’s government also supports the Tayssir Conditional Cash Transfer Program, which directly sends financial aid to families with kids unable to meet school criteria. These improvements are restricting an increasing number of children from dangerous work and causing the issuing of fines for violations of child labor.

While the solutions that these 10 facts about child labor in Morocco present only slightly reduce the overarching problem, child labor should lessen as the issues that people associate with it reach the spotlight of the media. Human Rights Watch suggests that the government take direct action to protect children.

Domestic workers and government actions are currently helping end contracts in houses across Morocco. The steps to ending child labor have only begun, yet the future looks promising. Programs such as the Cash Transfer Program reached 2 million children, allowing kid’s shoes to pass through the school gate. Other social programs give assistance to children at-risk for entering child labor with vocational training.

– Daniel Bertetti
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Russia
Child labor is a practice that has often occurred throughout history. Considered normal and accepted, child labor persisted for centuries in many places; however, in recent history, nations have enacted laws to protect children and ensure their safety.

In recent years, the ninth largest country, Russia, has been a popular topic in the news and in politics. Children’s rights are among the topics that people consider less often when discussing Russia’s human rights record. The story of child labor in Russia is long and varied throughout the history of its government and economic systems. The state of laws concerning child labor continues to evolve. Here are 10 facts about child labor in Russia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Russia

  1. The Soviet Republic restricted child labor during its existence. For many years, the world knew the region of Russia as the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). During this time, the USSR forbade children under the age of 16 from working. However, some exceptional cases allowed for the employment of children ages 14 and 15
  2. Children’s economic roles changed after the fall of the USSR. When the era of the USSR ended, many Russians fell into poverty and the nation’s GDP fell. As many families struggled, pressure increased for children to work in order to help provide for the family.
  3. Child labor remained illegal despite new economic pressures. The law that prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 remained in effect, despite Russia’s changes. Russia permitted the employment of children ages 14 and 15 only if they completed their basic education or obtained parental consent.
  4. Russia restricts shift lengths and working hours for children. Permitted to work, children between the ages of 14 and 16 can work a maximum of 24 hours per week. Further, their shifts cannot exceed five hours. For children ages 16 to 18, shifts cannot exceed seven hours and cannot exceed 36 weekly hours.
  5. The Russian government prohibits certain types of work. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot work night shifts or do dangerous work or work which may be “harmful to their moral development.”
  6. Children have special protections with regard to time off. According to Russian law, employed minors must receive at least 31 days of vacation time per year. For adults, these days roll over to the next year, but minors must use these vacation days.
  7. Despite the laws in place, child labor in Russia is still a threat to children’s well-being. When Maplecroft, a risk-analysis organization, made its Child Labor Index in 2014, it classified Russia as an extreme risk for child labor.
  8. Children who must work face different circumstances in rural and urban areas. Rural children primarily work in agriculture, while urban children’s labor usually occurs in industry or in service work. Common tasks include washing cars, selling merchandise and collecting garbage.
  9. The percentage of children in Russia forced into child labor is unknown. There is a scarcity of research regarding the prevalence of child labor. The surveys conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 1993, estimated that close to 20 percent of children in Russia were involved in child labor. More recent research is scarce.
  10. Child labor puts minors in danger. As shown in a 1997 study by G. I. Zabrianskii, 45 percent of children working on the streets have received threats of violence. Further, one-third of children working on the streets had actually experienced violence.

While there are laws in place to combat child labor, children in Russia are still at risk. Child labor in Russia may be due to economic pressures. Considering working children often face violence, it will take the government’s continued effort to ensure that these risks do not escalate.

Meredith Charney
Photo: Pixabay


Now, more than ever, the world is becoming more interconnected. While the new societal and political inter-dependencies are obvious, even fields like manufacturing are a part of this trend. One product serves as a glaring example of this phenomenon: the smartphone. This hand-sized piece of technology has a shocking amount of components from a shocking number of places. Tech giant Apple sources materials from nearly 45 countries to make its products. While global interconnectedness can certainly be a positive thing, especially in worldwide manufacturing arrangements, at-risk communities in this process can pay a price. Though there is potential for exploitation at many stages of production, it is especially bad at the raw materials stage. Mining toxic minerals like nickel, cadmium and cobalt can come at a high cost to human health. Unfortunately, the production of smartphones harms children in poverty.

To explore the specific threats to child laborers, it is helpful to focus in on one microcosm within the larger mining industry. One particularly harmful mineral in cell phone production is cobalt. Largely mined by hand, cobalt is a silvery-gray metal that people use for many different products, including metal alloys in jet engines and powerful magnets. It is also common in lithium-ion batteries, which are rechargeable energy sources that power mobile devices. The rise in the prevalence of electric cars, which use the same technology, means the demand for cobalt is only rising.

What Conditions Do Children Face?

While countries like Russia and Cuba produce this ore, workers mine more than 50 percent of the world’s cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Due to this high rate of production, most of the exploitation in cobalt mines occur in this country. As mine operators struggle to keep up with demand, the poverty rate in the DRC stands at nearly 65 percent.  That means that many desperate people are willing to work in dangerous conditions for hardly any money.

In January 2016, Amnesty International published an investigation into human rights abuses in the DRC’s cobalt mines and it found horrifying conditions. Workers face permanent lung and skin damage, as well as immediate physical harm from cave-ins and other accidents. Not only that, but the investigation also found children as young as 7 years old employed in these conditions. This is how the production of smartphones harms children in poverty.

Children told Amnesty International that for 12 hours of work, they could expect to earn only $1 or 2. When government or industry authorities visited mines, supervisors order the children to hide or stay away from the mines for a few days so others would not spot them. These poor conditions and ill-policed regulations are the reasons why cobalt is known as “the blood diamond of batteries.”

How Can People Fix This Problem?

Some companies have taken the initiative to reduce child exploitation, especially in the years following the 2016 Amnesty International report. Electric car-maker Tesla and its battery provider, Panasonic, have worked hard to pursue cobalt-free battery alternatives. These companies managed to cut cobalt use by 60 percent in six years. However, current technologies have reached their limits. Removing more cobalt will start to pose a longevity problem, as well as a fire-risk.

Because cobalt will remain in use for at least the near future, it is essential to protect impoverished child workers. Most simply, because this issue seems far away, it is easy to forget its gravity. For that reason, remembering the power of consumer impact is important. Pay attention to how companies operate and support businesses that perform the necessary due diligence to run responsibly.

For example, Apple, like many large tech and development companies, has a website with details about the ethics of its supply chain. Read up on brands’ efforts, and make sure to voice any concerns (or potentially, any support) at a website like this one.

What Can People Do to Make a Personal Impact?

Direct habits also make a difference. Try to avoid buying new electronic devices if possible. There are many websites, such as Gazelle, where customers can buy like-new phones to prevent the need for mining new cobalt. Additionally, if a device bites the dust, consider recycling its components. While lithium-ion batteries cannot go into the usual blue recycling bins, resources like this one at call2recycle can help identify the most convenient option.

Lastly, consider learning more and keeping up with the latest news on the Cobalt Institute’s website. This group is a non-governmental trade association that provides information and assists in identifying and solving problems in the cobalt industry. With 62 years of experience and all of the major producers in membership, this group has great influence in these matters.

While today, the production of smartphones harms children in poverty, improving conditions are just around the corner. With responsible choices, better supply chain management and technical innovations, this problem could soon be one of the past.

– Molly Power
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Facts About Child Labor in South Africa
A report by the United Nations International Labor Organization (UNILO) reveals that about one in every five children partakes in child labor in South Africa. This contributes to the African continent’s reputation as the highest in numbers regarding child labor. Examples of explicit labor include, but are not limited to, working in agriculture for extremely low wages, working for factories in the black market or being forced into sex trafficking. The Child Labor Program of Action has defined child labor in South Africa as work by children under the age of 18 that is exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for their age and detrimental to their schooling or social, mental, physical, spiritual or moral development. Here are 10 facts about child labor in South Africa.

10 Facts About Child Labor in South Africa

  1. Approximately 72.1 million African children engage in child labor, while 31 million are working hazardous jobs. These jobs include strenuous labor in agricultural work, mechanic work in unsanitary factories and selling their bodies.
  2. The 2016 Global Estimates of Child Labor indicates that one-fifth of all African children are child laborers. Nine percent of African children are working in hazardous jobs. Both figures are more than twice as high as any other region.
  3. In 2014, reports determined that 31,000 children of children absent from school or experiencing learning difficulties at school had suffered from work-related injuries. The number of reported injuries at work only dropped to 202,000 children in 2015.
  4. Inequality in the continent has led to high recordings of sex trafficking among female children between the ages of 8 and 16. Although people can also sell boys for the use of sex acts, records determine that people sell young girls the most. In these cases, families may sell them so they can pay off living expenses.
  5. More than 268,000 kids living in rural areas must work hard jobs in agriculture for ridiculously low wages and terrible working conditions. Earnings combined with their families’ incomes amount to less than $1.25 per day leading many families to fall below the poverty line.
  6. The unemployment rate amongst children who have completed school and those who have not is equal. This leads to fewer kids attending school and more seeking work so they can make money right away. A total of 80 percent of South African children will fail to complete high school due to the necessity of working in hazardous jobs to help their families pay off living expenses.
  7. The Survey of Activities of Young People stated that more than 120,000 children have already participated in economic affairs in 2010. Meanwhile, another 90,000 children have suffered an injury while working a job from 2011 to 2012.
  8. The International Labor Organization in 2002 launched World Day Against Child Labor. The goal is to draw attention to the practice of child labor globally and the event happens every year on June 12th. The ILO reflects on past accomplishments in minimizing child labor along with collaborating to find more solutions in compliance with the Alliance 8.7 organization.
  9. The Alliance 8.7 nonprofit organization is a global partnership to eradicate forced labor, modernized forms of slavery and human trafficking around the world. Its efforts have reduced the number of sex trafficking acts in South Africa along with working toward getting children out of hazardous working conditions.
  10. The International Labor Organization is continuing to grow the amount of Child Labor Units and National Steering Committee to eradicate child labor in South Africa by mobilizing globally and providing knowledge locally. The goal of these committees is to gain assistance from a global outreach in acquiring the right resources to eradicate child labor, provide knowledge of what child labor is, methods on how to reduce it and instigate action plans to disperse it.

These 10 facts about child labor in South Africa just scratch the surface of the dangerous realization of just how many young children child labor affects. Children are suffering life-threatening injuries, missing out on getting a proper education and working hazardous jobs for little wages. In 2017, South Africa made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The government passed a Child’s Protection Act prohibiting persons convicted of child trafficking from working with children. The adoption of Phase IV of the National Child Labor Program of Action for South Africa has increased funding for the Child Support Grant to provide monthly direct cash transfers to primary caregivers who have vulnerable children. While some changes are occurring to help improve child labor laws, the South African government requires more action to minimize the harm from this list of 10 facts about child labor in South Africa. With continued advancement, South Africa should continue to expect relief and improvement over the years.

Aaron Templin
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in Mexico
Childhood is a time for growth, development and play; however, in countries like Mexico, countless boys and girls are deprived of what makes them children. Poverty in Mexico has forced many children to abandon play and begin employment. Child labor in Mexico is an issue that the country struggles to overcome, and these 10 facts about child labor in Mexico present the reasons the country has yet to defeat this phenomenon.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Mexico

1. The high rate of child labor in Mexico is due to large amounts of poverty across the country. As of 2016, 43.6 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. This means that nearly half of the population is experiencing significant financial burdens, which often result in a lack of food, adequate living conditions and educational opportunities. With almost half of the population of Mexico experiencing this high rate of poverty, it is no surprise that Mexico has the highest rate of poverty in all of North America.

2. Around 3.6 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Mexico are employed. Of this, nearly 870,000 are under the age of 13.

3. In Latin America 50 percent of all employed children live in Mexico. Latin America is spread across 33 countries and home to 626 million people. While Mexico is not the largest country in population or size in Latin America, it has the highest number of employed children.

4. Mexico’s Federal Labor Law prohibits children who are under the age of 14 to work. Furthermore, children under the age of 16 may not participate in what they call “unhealthy or hazardous work.” This type of work is defined as anything that may be detrimental to the child’s health, including work with various chemicals and industrial night labor. This law is in place in order to ensure the physical and mental health of children, along with safeguarding proper development.

5. In Mexico, the Department of Labor is responsible for protecting workers’ rights, including monitoring child labor; however, the enforcement of child labor laws is minimal and ineffective in smaller companies, agricultural work and construction. Yet, it is in these areas that the majority of child labor in Mexico takes place.

6. Under Mexican law, children under 16 are not allowed to work more than six hours per day. Despite this law, almost 97 percent of children work more than 35 hours per week, which is well above the legal six hours per day.

7. Children often drop out of school in order to help provide financially for their families. If they do not drop out of school, many children must work on top of attending school to help their families survive. The older the child is, the more this phenomenon occurs. For instance, by the age of 17, one-third of Mexicans are working. For families experiencing extreme poverty in Mexico, education is just another financial burden and is second to earning a salary and making a contribution.

8. More children who live in the north and in the countryside are employed, compared with their counterparts in the city and in the south. For example, 12 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 13 are employed in the southern states like Guerrero, whereas merely 1.4 percent of those children are working in the north, in states like Chihuahua.

9. Employed children in Mexico often work in difficult conditions that put their health at risk. Child labor in Mexico often revolves around children working with and carrying heavy materials, such as wood and cement. Further, children are often fieldworkers and servants.

10. Fortunately, the rate of child labor in Mexico has been slowly decreasing due to programs like Oportunidades. This Mexican anti-poverty program is working on decreasing child labor in Mexico by providing families with educational grants. With these grants, more children will be able to stay in school instead of working. The Oportunidades program has helped more than four million families and counting.

Child labor in Mexico continues to be an ongoing problem that the country faces. Still, with each new generation, statistics change and circumstances improve. With the help of anti-poverty programs, newer generations of Mexicans are realizing the importance of education and a fulfilling childhood. Lowering poverty in Mexico will not only lessen the amount of child labor, but also save the childhoods of boys and girls who deserve more than just a salary.

– Melissa Quist
Photo: Flickr

brickyards in nepal
In Nepal, where the world-renowned Himalayas are located, poverty continues to plague rural populations. The poverty rate in these regions is still around 35%. Due to a struggling agricultural industry, many are pushed to the cities, where they find jobs in less than desirable work conditions, such as the brickyards of Kathmandu.

The Brickyards in Nepal

During half the year, from late fall to early spring, laborers build thousands of bricks from the clay deposits found in Kathmandu. Many of the laborers are children, teenagers, women, and even the elderly. Whole families move into the brickyards in order to make a few dollars. The work is physically demanding and becomes dangerous near the kilns, where smokestacks bake the bricks and spew toxic chemicals into the air.

An estimated 750 brick factories are in operation in Nepal, but only a little over half of them are registered with the government. Due to lack of funds to enforce child labor laws, brickyards around Nepal still employ approximately 13,530 children in Kathmandu valley. Even more unfortunate, most families depend on their children to work in order to cover all of their expenses.

The Economic Angle

Several economic factors keep both the brickyards in operation and the families in bonded labor. First, construction remains one of the largest industries in Nepal, contributing NPR $55121 Million in 2018 to Nepal’s GDP. Brickyards in Nepal directly fuel this industry, and the government lacks legislative potency in order to reform brickyards’ working conditions. Second, middlemen often entice families to labor in brickyards with the false promise of good pay to get them through a dry season in the job market. In reality, families receive low pay for their work, which makes them unable to pay off their debts and forces them to stay in the brickyard, for years or possibly even generations.

Breaking the Cycle

The brickyards in Nepal present a raw picture of the cycle of poverty that still exists worldwide and exposes the structures and factors that keep families in economic bondage. While hopes of alleviating the situation seem dire, there are a variety of ways that nonprofit and activist organizations are mobilizing to alleviate the suffering in the brickyards in Nepal:

  1. Humanitarian: Ceramic Water Filter Solution is a company whose mission is to bring safe water home. One of their projects started in 2015 and 2016, has been to provide clean water to families working in brickyards in Nepal, where water is scarce. They provide many ways to volunteer, donate, and support their work on their website:
  2. Medical: Terres des Hommes collaborate with local partners to establish healthcare camps to provide aid, particularly to women and children. They have set up facilities in 20 brickyards in the districts of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. This initiative supports workers by monitoring children’s diets and checking on workplace health conditions. To help with these programs in Nepal, there are a variety of options for people to donate and to volunteer on their website.
  3. Technical: For brickyard owners, one initiative, the Global Fairness’s Better Brick Nepal (BBN) program, could, at a minimum, improve the working conditions of their brickyards. The program aims at providing technical assistance to make brickmaking safer and more efficient. In 2017, the BBN project has extended to 40 kilns in 14 districts. Ultimately, those who have started the BBN hope to enforce standards that brickyard owners must comply with in order to operate profitable businesses.
  4. Political: A research and activist group, BloodBricks seeks to end the “modern slavery-climate change nexus” of the construction industry in countries like Cambodia, Nepal, and Pakistan. Their studies trace the injustice of the “booming” construction industry in these countries and seek to fight these issues through further advocacy and discussion.

Deep-Rooted Issues

There are many different ways organizations are placing pressure on the system of brickyards in Nepal. While the issue is complex, involving deep-rooted economic and political structures, this situation is worth fighting, as one way to combat poverty and suffering in Nepal. Additionally, solving this issue has broader implications for economic bondage in brickyards in other countries and bringing this issue to light has wide impacts in terms of advocacy and awareness.

Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

social media affects human traffickingNearly two decades into the 21st century, more than 2.5 billion people use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Youtube. There’s no doubt that these types of digital realms alter human interaction and communication. Many users view these high-tech advances as ways to connect with communities they might not have been able to connect with otherwise. Unfortunately not everyone with social media accounts use them solely to stay connected with old friends and distant relatives; human traffickers utilize social media to recruit, run operations and control their victims. Here are eight facts about modern-day slavery in Europe and how social media affects human trafficking.

8 Facts About How Social Media Affects Human Trafficking

  1. Human trafficking doesn’t only include forced transportation for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. In addition to servitude and prostitution, trafficking also consists of the removal of vital organs and forced criminality, such as pickpocketing, shoplifting and drug trafficking.
  2. Human traffickers lure, abduct and control victims solely for their own financial gain. They may lure victims by offering an escape from extreme poverty or abusive homes. As Professor AnnJanette Rosga, who oversaw the “Research on Child Trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina” report stated, “the global sex trade is as much a product of everyday people struggling to survive in dire economic straits as it is an organized crime problem.” Some individuals and families believe that the financial benefits will outweigh the costs of modern-day slavery or that victims will be able to escape. Addressing root causes of what makes people vulnerable to human trafficking, such as poverty, lack of job opportunity and lack of safe migration opportunities, will certainly decrease the prevalence of human trafficking.
  3. Developing European countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania each have millions of internet users. These and other Eastern European countries oftentimes have histories filled with corruption, civil strife and authoritarian government that contribute to high unemployment levels, leaving civilians vulnerable. Young girls and women struggling with poverty create optimal conditions for criminals to connect with vulnerable people like them without immediately exposing themselves as criminals.
  4. “Poly-criminal” gangs create fake social media accounts, marketing them as employment agencies to target young and vulnerable victims. Hiding behind fake profile pictures and information can transform any criminal into someone who might seem trustworthy, especially to young people who want to help their families living in poverty.
  5. Likewise, human traffickers will manipulate their victims’ social media accounts to maintain control. Social media oftentimes seems like a connection to friends and family members, but traffickers will restrict or monitor use of social media to keep their victims powerless.
  6. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization, works against human trafficking in several countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Albania. The OSCE recommends combating modern-day slavery through a three-step framework: prevention, which includes raising awareness and addressing root problems, prosecution, which includes investigation and cooperation with international law enforcement, and protection of victims’ rights, which includes assistance and compensation.
  7. La Strada International is a leading network of eight independent organizations that work on a grassroots level to combat human trafficking in Europe. La Strada has offices in Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine, but they lobby at the international level, advocating for changes in policy and stressing the importance of human rights.
  8. Ariadne is a regional network of 16 organizations in 12 countries, dedicated to combating human trafficking in Southeastern and Eastern Europe. Their most recent joint project focuses on developing effective reintegration models for survivors of human trafficking in the Western Balkans.

While the Information Age continues to bring about life-altering knowledge and technologies, there are always those who will manipulate technological advances for criminal activity. With increasingly new gadgets and technologies, 21st-century caveats include cybersecurity and data privacy issues as well as catfishing. While poverty, lack of opportunity and weak labor rights are some causes for humanitarian injustices, high prevalence and ease for traffickers to disguise themselves and their intentions are how social media affects human trafficking.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr