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Organizations Working to End Child Labor
Around 160 million children around the world ages 5 to 17 are involved in child labor and more than 79 million of them are working in dangerous conditions that put their lives at major risk. Over the last four years, there has been an increase of 8.4 million children now engrossed in the act of child labor and that number is predicted to rise significantly even just for the year 2022. Despite this issue ascending, there is a multitude of organizations working to end child labor worldwide.

Child Labor and its Impact

Child labor is when someone exploits children into work that is dangerous and hazardous almost 50% of the time. This prevents them from having a normal childhood and leaves them unable to attend school. This issue is present in countries all over the world and sub-Saharan Africa has the most child laborers in the world with over 86.6 million, according to World Vision.

Poverty and poor schools are the two biggest causes of child labor in low-income countries. However, the problem is still prevalent in middle and high-income countries. “About 93.4 million children, 58.4% of child laborers, live in middle-income countries and 1.6 million child laborers live in high-income countries,” World Vision reported on its website.

Slavery, child trafficking, forced recruitment into armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, drug production and debt bondage are the worst forms of child labor, according to World Vision. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 22,000 children die each year at work due to unsafe environments. The most common form of child labor is agriculture work with more than 70% of laborers working in that field, World Vision reported.

One in three children in child labor is unable to receive an education due to how demanding their work schedule is, which is only going to continue the poverty and child labor cycle. According to UNICEF, there are 9 million additional children globally at risk of ending up in child labor by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic.” Luckily there are organizations working to end child labor, so hopefully, that number will not be as extreme.

The Global March Against Child Labour

The Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) is a global organization made-up of trade unions, teacher associations and civic organizations, with the purpose of ending child exploitation and trafficking, while focusing on providing quality education to all children. Global March began in 1998 when thousands of people, including world leaders came together to march against child labor in 103 countries to bring awareness to the problem.

The organization takes part in local, national, regional and global efforts in protecting and promoting the rights of children. Its goal is to change the system that compels children to have to work in the first place. Some of the issues it is addressing in order to improve children’s future: “the elimination of child labor, education for all and poverty alleviation.”

The organization has multiple programs in place as well as events aiding the end of child labor. It also has a current campaign called “Will you dance with us?,” which aims to show world leaders the importance of education and how many children in Africa (87 million) are working instead of going to school.

GoodWeave

GoodWeave, an organization that began in 1994, “is the leading global institution with a mission to stop child labor in global supply chains through a market-based holistic and authentic system.” Since 1994, the organization has rescued over 6,700 children from child labor and provided educational opportunities to over 26,000 children. It reached more than 75,000 workers in supply chains in 2018. In partnership with more than 350 organizations worldwide, GoodWeave aims to heal and educate exploited children and address the root causes of child labor.

There is “The GoodWeave Label,” which is a label on products that means no child labor went into the creation of that product. The purchase of products with this label shows support for programs trying to educate children and ensure adequate work for adults. “GoodWeave makes regular, unannounced inspections of all production facilities that cover tier-one factories and all outsourced production, including homes, to verify compliance with this Standard,” the organization said on its website.

Love146

Rob Morris founded Love146, a global organization, in 2002 with the mission of ending child trafficking and exploitation. The values Love146 operates under are “defiant hope, steady perseverance, deliberate collaboration, relentless advocacy, intentional thoughtfulness and unfiltered joy.” Services provided to positively outcome children include preventative education and supportive programming for financial independence, skills and resources.

There is a current project in the Philippines to provide holistic care to children in Love146’s care. The staff there created innovative ways to provide “education, recreation, health care and other services could be provided to children on-site,” according to its annual report.

Love146 reached more than 3,500 children through survivor care. It also reached more than 16,000 professionals, community members and caregivers to support Love146’s vision. Prevention and community education reached more than 63,000 children, thanks to Love146. “The trafficking and exploitation of children are one of the most severe human rights abuses imaginable,” Morris said on the organization’s website.

There are millions of children forced into labor each year and that number could only go up. By the end of this year, UNICEF predicts that 9 million children could go into child labor. This means they are most likely going to lose access to their education and have a poverty-based future, continuing the cycle between poverty and child labor. Child exploitation is an ongoing issue around the world, but these are just a few of the many organizations working to end child labor permanently around the world.

– Dylan Olive
Photo: Unsplash

Child Labor in Turkey
Child labor in Turkey continues as both an international and domestic issue for the country. Despite Turkish and international community efforts to establish policies and initiatives to prevent child labor and protect the interests of children, child labor persists. The below facts highlight the details of the type of labor children typically perform as well as the efforts the government of Turkey has made to end child labor.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Turkey

  1. Work in Hazelnut Fields: Hazelnut production in Turkey is the largest sector of agricultural production, making up approximately 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural exports. For this reason, many migrant agricultural workers travel along the eastern and western regions of Turkey looking for work during the hazelnut harvesting season. The children of these workers travel with their families and also contribute to the harvest of hazelnuts in Turkey. In 2017, nearly 800,000 children worked in the hazelnut fields. Most children work 11 hour days, seven days a week in the fields.
  2. The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking: The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking is an existing program in Turkey. This program identifies and protects both the victims of child trafficking as well as those children who are at high-risk for trafficking, such as the children of migrant agricultural workers. The high-risk children this program identified are the recipients of additional security precautions that the shelters took in. Victims of human trafficking frequently become migrant agricultural workers.
  3. Children of Syrian Refugees are High-Risk: As the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey continues to grow, so does the number of Syrian families working as migrant agricultural workers. Due to their status within the country of Turkey, many of these laborers work longer hours than those of the Turkish migrant workers and receive lower wages, with children oftentimes earning half of an adult’s wage. The children of the Syrian refugees are at an even higher risk of becoming permanently part of the sector of migrant labor due to lower access to education, discrimination and financial barriers.
  4. Efforts of the Turkish Government to Eradicate Child Labor: The Turkish government has made efforts to combat the high levels of child labor with a variety of government-funded programs. The Conditional Education and Health Care Assistance Program “aims to reduce poverty through cash transfers,” which takes the form of free milk and books given to primary school children. In 2017, approximately 190,000 children benefited from this program. By providing food and educational support, the Turkish government aims to create a learning environment for children where their families feel that they can afford the time for their children to be in school instead of working to earn extra money.
  5. Child labor in Turkey Increased in 2018: Despite the sweeping measures that the Turkish government has taken to prevent and eventually put an end to child labor in Turkey, the number of child laborers saw a marked increase in 2018. The Turkish government made a commitment to the International Labor Organization (ILO) that it would put an end to child labor by 2015, but that has not been the case thus far.
  6. Education Rates of Child Laborers: Due to the long hours that child laborers in Turkey work, they are unable to consistently attend schools in the areas where they work on hazelnut farms. The children also move around too frequently with their families to establish a lasting record at any one school, contributing to these children’s decreased likelihood of school attendance. In addition, the vocational schools that exist in areas that have heavy industry provide an education to children that promotes their continued work in the industrial sphere.
  7. Minimum Age for Child Labor: Turkey has existing laws in place that are to protect children from child labor. There is a minimum age requirement of 15 for agricultural work and a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work. A prohibition of forced labor and child trafficking also currently exists in Turkey. Despite the efforts of the government of Turkey, holes continue to exist in the legal framework that aims to protect children from hazardous child labor.
  8. Effective Enforcement of Existing Child Labor Laws: Though the Turkish government has age limits in place for child labor, as well as a list of light work that the Regulation on the Principles and Procedures Governing the Employment of Children and Young Workers permits, high levels of child labor in Turkey persist. Part of this gap in the legislation and actual protection of child laborers is due in part to the low numbers of inspectors and the classification of agricultural work as light labor. The Regulation on Principles has indicated that the country must legally consider picking fruit and vegetables as light work, therefore placing very few restrictions on migratory agriculture. Despite this, the gaps that exist in the legal framework “may hinder adequate enforcement of [Turkey’s] child labor laws.”
  9. National Program to Combat Child Labor in Turkey: The government of Turkey has made an effort to maintain compliance with international child labor laws. The National Program to Combat Child Labor began in 2017 and is to run until 2023. This program focuses on maintaining surveillance of the labor sectors of migratory agriculture, street work and work performed in small to medium industries to ensure that none of Turkey’s existing child labor laws are in violation.
  10. The Global March Against Child Labour: There are multiple NGOs in the international sphere that are fighting to end child labor worldwide. The Global March Against Child Labour is one such organization with a mission is to “mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free and meaningful education and the right to be free from economic exploitation.” Global March operates through the advocacy of issues to policymakers, raising awareness of child labor around the world and building partnerships with existing organizations such as the International Labour Organization. The Global March has seen success in many of its areas of focus. In 2018, Global March organized the Meet of Parliamentarians Without Borders for Children’s Rights in Brussels, Belgium. At the conclusion of the parliament, in which MPs from Sri Lanka, Benin, Togo, Paraguay, Uganda, Ghana, the Netherlands and Costa Rica attended, all MPs committed to working within their respective parliaments to end child labor in their countries.

Turkey still requires progress to put an end to dangerous and damaging child labor, but the steps that it has made in its own programs, as well as international programs, shows hope for a future for child labor in Turkey. That future includes stronger protection of a child’s right to receive an education and lead a stable life out of the fields.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr