Millions of children around the world are trapped in child labour, depriving them of their childhood, their health and education, and condemning them to a life of poverty and want.
While cost reductions might seem a short term win for business, child labour besides being a clear human rights obligation to eradicate undermines the long term success of business by inhibiting the development of a productive and skilled future workforce.
How can businesses help to eradicate child labour? Eradicating child labour is a never ending process that demands constant monitoring. This is made all the more complicated by multi-layered, fragmented supply chains. Codes of conduct can only go so far Under the UN Guiding Principlescompanies have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout the supply chain.
Nick Weatherill, executive director at International Cocoa Initiative, notes that reliably monitoring for CoC compliance in supply chains like African agriculture is tricky and no substitute for tackling root causes of child labour like income poverty, access to basic services or child protection.
There are root causes to consider As Weatherhill suggests, child labour has systemic dimensions that often go beyond what any one company can do. Child labour is a vicious circle.
If children do not have education opportunities, they will be unable to break out of the cycle of poverty and their communities will be unable to develop. Cookie Monster wants kids to snack healthier Read more To break the vicious cycle, the issue of child labour should be taken in its totality.
For Joost Kooijmans, senior adviser on child labour at Unicef, sustained investment in poverty reduction, education, and girls under the Millennium Development Goals has contributed to the reduction in child labour since While companies must be aware of how their own purchasing quotas in terms of quantities, time and price might pressure suppliers to rely on children, they should also understand and support comprehensive, bigger picture solutions which could include pre-competitive collaboration.
A good example of the financial implications of failing to improve the labour rights framework comes from Disney [which terminated all its orders] in Pakistan. It would have been really interesting to have seen companies sourcing from, or operating in Bolivia, to have used some of their leverage to persuade the government otherwise.
Cultural acceptance is not an excuse for inaction McQuade is very clear that businesses should work to eradicate child labour whether or not it is cultural accepted. Where local norms do not fit with universal human rights, Wynhoven says that with clear policies against the use of child labour and clarity about why it is harmful, companies can help to change perceptions.
Where children are still dropping out of school to work, Steyne suggests delivering better quality, more relevant and rounded education can help prevent this. Although paying reasonable prices is good practice, Kooijmans notes that more cash income may not automatically lead to school enrolment and withdrawal from child labour.
From experience in west Africa, Weatherhill observes: Not all work children do constitutes child labour and a blanket policy against employing under 18s can have adverse consequences. As Wynhoven points out, decent work opportunities for young people are important for their development.
Companies can get creative with age verification Last year, China Labour Watch found that children had been working for Samsung supplier Dongguan Shinyang Electronics after they had used false IDs and been hired by a subcontractor.
For Eniko Horvath, UN guiding principles researcher, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, this is where the importance of local context and knowledge really comes into play.
Sethi supports this with an example from a global food and beverage company sourcing from China which often asks employees which Chinese animal year they were born in rather than the numerical year. Similarly, Steyne adds that when interviewing families and children informally, you can ask about a big community event or festival at the time the child was born.
The cost of respecting human rights always needs to be part of any business model. Empowering women in global supply chains The child rights and business hub is sponsored by Unicef. Find out more here. Join the community of sustainability professionals and experts.
Become a GSB member to get more stories like this direct to your inbox.Ensure a child labour free community; Picture courtesy: Google & BBA. Engage with the RWA in your locality to address the issue of child labour.
Persuade them to make it a key priority to ensure that the locality is child labour free.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss child labour and possible prevention. Child labour is when a child under the legal age (fifteen) are made to do work that is physically and mentally harmful and which interrupts their education or social development.1 Child labour is a serious problem in many countries.
IPEC’s aim is the progressive elimination of child labour worldwide, with the eradication of the worst forms an urgent priority. Since it began operations in , IPEC has worked to achieve this in several ways: through country-based programmes which promote policy reform, build institutional capacity and put in place concrete measures to end child labour; and through awareness raising and.
UNICEF supports the achievement of SDG Target which provides that States take “immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by end child labour in all its forms”.
Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school and is harmful to their physical and mental development.
The Time Bound Programs work with ratifying countries to first attempt removal of children from the worst forms of child labour, as well as attempting to eradicate the cause behind child labour in the first place.