June 12 is the day against child labor.
Child labor is still a major problem today. According to an estimate by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the children's relief organization UNICEF, around 160 million children are currently affected. Of these, 79 million work in dangerous or exploitative conditions. The number of unreported cases is probably high and the trend is rising.
What exactly do you define as child labor?
Child labor includes work for which children are too young, which is dangerous or exploitative, as well as damaging to physical or mental development, or which prevents children from attending school. It deprives children of their childhood and violates children's rights that apply worldwide.
Where does child labor occur?
Child labor occurs in many areas of the world, for example in gold mines in Burkina Faso, on the cotton fields in India, on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast or on farms in Latin America. Most child laborers live in Africa, followed by Asia, and are employed 70% in agriculture, 20% as unskilled workers in the service sector and 10% in industry. Many have excessive working hours. They are highly dependent on their employers and have little protection from violence or sexual assault. The majority of children are not employed, as they work in the family, mostly unpaid.
In Germany, child labor is strictly prohibited.
The vicious circle of child labor
The vicious circle of child labor originates in the causes of child labor: poverty, usually in combination with other factors. Pandemics, (armed) conflicts and natural disasters exacerbate the plight of the poorest. Main breadwinners are dead or separated from the family, fields cannot be cultivated or harvests fall away, so that children have to work besides school. This often becomes too much, so that children drop out of school or do less well. Without a qualified school diploma, the child laborers in turn have poorer chances of finding well-paid work. This makes it likely that they will continue to live in poor conditions and that their children will experience the same.
What can we do against child labor?
Of course, this is difficult to do directly, as child labor does not take place geographically on our doorstep. However, you can consciously consume or buy used items whose components are often associated with child labor. These are, for example, various electronic devices, but also clothing, chocolate and products that contain palm oil.
You can also raise awareness of the issue in your communities, advocate for fair and accountable supply chains at work and in politics. - It's a big issue that needs to be addressed by policymakers, but we can also do our part and demand that policymakers take it seriously.
Sources: unicef.de, utopia.de