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152 Million Reasons to End Child Labor by year 2025

By CLC-member Timothy Ryan of Solidarity Center

By Timothy Ryan*

An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child, but one can also say that it takes the whole world to protect one child. Children today are faced with increasing challenges. When children should be playing, studying and enjoying their short yet foundational period of childhood they are instead subjected to exploitation, violence, hunger and various forms of slavery.  The international community for decades has been making efforts to reduce inequalities and injustice for children, with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) being the most recent global goals that the world has committed to achieve. 


We urge the governments to continue investing at least 6% of their GDP in children’s education and provide vulnerable families and their children with social protection. –Timothy Ryan, Global March Against Child Labour


The goal that is closest to my heart and has been the driving force for me and my organization, Global March Against Child Labour is the SDG Target 8.7, which calls upon the world to end all forms of child labor by 2025. With only 5 years to achieve this compelling and challenging goal, today we are faced with yet another obstacle in our progress to end child labor – the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the whole world to its knees.

When I first became the Chair of the Global March Against Child Labor in 2017, my hope and enthusiasm were spurred by the assurance that together as a world, we would be able to achieve the task of ending child labor by the year 2025. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic now accelerating again, I’m saddened to witness an unforeseen reversal in the progress made so far in our fight against child labor.  I’m grateful that the Global March’s Board voiced its support to re-elect me in 2020 as the Chair of the world’s foremost organization fighting to end child labor at a time when all our efforts to address this scourge must be re-doubled.

COVID-19 therefore is just another stumbling block in our struggle to bring all children to school and eliminate child labor. We still have 152 million reasons not to get bogged down, to continue pressing forward and to stand up for each of the 152 million children being exploited in labor and hazardous conditions. Now is the time that we as an international community –  the national leader, the district authority, the businessman, the trade union activist, the civil society member, the community representative – all come together to do our bit to ensure every child is able to enjoy his or her childhood and not let it slip away. This is the time for collective action – from moving beyond lengthy commitments and glorious speeches, to targeted, time-bound and measurable efforts, at the global, regional and local levels. 


The Global March recently carried out a survey on COVID-19 and child labor with 40 of its civil society members from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The survey confirmed our fears, revealing that the world is likely to face an increase in child labor across sectors not only in the agriculture sector which is the largest employer of child labor, but also in the service sector, which will equally face an unprecedented rise in the number of working children. Girls who already face the double burden of school and household chores are predicted to be worst affected, pushing them out of school, very possibly never to return. Survey findings like these can instill a great uncertainty and concern, but this gives us yet another reason not to be daunted by the obstacles we all face in eliminating child labor.  

The ILO is scheduled to issue a new Global Estimate on Child Labor next year. Whatever the numbers may be,  history and this moment demand that the year 2021 is the crucial year of serious, concerted action against child laborr and not just a feel-good commemoration of work already done. 

At this critical moment, on behalf of the Global March members around the world, I call upon the international community to not only keep the focus on child labor alive but to breathe new life into this effort. We urge the governments to continue investing at least 6% of their GDP in children’s education and provide vulnerable families and their children with social protection. Governments must also continue taking necessary measures to ensure continuity of education for children especially in rural areas, through remote or physical means (as per COVID-19 conditions). All stakeholders must also ensure children involved in child labour in agriculture and the service sector are protected and given their due rights to access to education. Even in normal times it is unconscionable for children to be so exploited; now in the midst of the COVID pandemic, this crisis should never be used to justify existing or increasing child labour.

This moment in time is a test for all of us.  When we look back we will want to say we took measure of the daunting task in 2021 to accelerate the elimination of child labour and committed ourselves to use every avenue and tool at hand to do so. 

[This article originally appeared at Photos are courtesy of].

*Timothy Ryan is the Chairperson of the Global March Against Child Labour and the Asia Regional Program Director for Solidarity Center based in Washington D.C, USA.

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In a Pandemic Year, Some Good News for Children–10 Points of Progress in 2020

By Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch



This year has been devastating for children. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the education of 1.5 billion students, pushed an estimated 150 million additional children into poverty, left many without caregivers, and increased child laborchild marriage, and violence in the home.

But despite the enormous hardships, the year has also brought some good news for kids. As we finish the year, here are 10 areas of progress from 2020:

  1. Greece ended its longstanding practice of detaining unaccompanied migrant children in jail cells.
  2. Both Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe committed to ending the exclusion of pregnant girls and teenage mothers from school.
  3. The US states of Minnesota and Pennsylvania both enacted laws to ban all child marriage before age 18.
  4. Five more countries – Estonia, Malawi, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda – committed to protecting schools during armed conflict by endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, bringing the total to 106 endorsers.
  5. hospital in Chicago pledged to become the first in the United States to stop performing medically unnecessary surgeries on children born with intersex traits.
  6. FIFA imposed a lifetime ban on the Haitian soccer federation president for systematic sexual abuse against female players, including girls.
  7. South Sudan signed a comprehensive action plan to end violations against children in armed conflict.
  8. Saudi Arabia announced that it would end executions of offenders for crimes committed before the age of 18.
  9. Japan and Seychelles banned all corporal punishment of children, bringing the global total of countries with a comprehensive ban to 60.
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New CLC Press Release: Chocolate Companies Must Do More to Reduce Widespread Child Labor Confirmed by New Report on the West African Cocoa Sector; Due Diligence Legislation is Needed to Fix Supply Chains

Chocolate Companies Must Do More to Reduce Widespread Child Labor Confirmed by New Report on the West African Cocoa Sector; Due Diligence Legislation is Needed to Fix Supply Chains


For immediate release: October 21, 2020

Contact: Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition, (202) 207-2820, 


Washington, DC – A new report out this week confirms that the chocolate industry’s deep dependence on child labor to produce cocoa, a main ingredient of chocolate, continues unabated in West Africa despite nearly two decades of interventions and manufacturers’ promises to end the worst forms of child labor. The  report confirms what advocates at the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which consists of 38 child rights groups, consumer groups, and worker rights organizations (including several of America’s largest unions), have been saying for years. According to the new study by the research group NORC at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of child labor in agricultural households in cocoa-producing areas in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two primary sources of cocoa in the world, increased from 31 percent to 45 percent in the decade leading up to 2019.


The $3.5 million study, funded by U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), released earlier this week, confirms that rampant child labor still exists on Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa farms. Researchers also concluded that the vast majority of the child labor continues to be hazardous, with children using sharp tools like machetes, clearing land, carrying heavy loads, working long hours, conducting night work, and increasingly using pesticides and other agrochemicals—a major concern.… Read the rest

COVID and School Closures: Bringing Mental Health to the Forefront

[Note: COVID-related school closures have meant many children around the world have been thrust prematurely into child labor. In many cases, the closures have also meant children have lost access to resources like free or subsidized meals and mental health services.]

By Jonathan Todres, Georgia State University

October 10th marks World Mental Health Day. Although international days typically do not get much coverage in the United States, World Mental Health Day deserves attention this year due to the significant impact of COVID-19.

In the United States, the epicenter of the pandemic, COVID-19 related job losses, looming evictions, school closures, social isolation, and related issues have spurred stress, anxiety, depression, and other adverse mental health consequences.

The mental and behavioral health consequences have been particularly significant for single-parent families and families with young children. More broadly, evidence suggests that the pandemic is causing an increase in the number of children with mental health issues and worsening children’s existing mental health issues. In addition, COVID-19 related school closings have disrupted children’s access to mental health services. As reported in JAMA Pediatrics, “[A]mong adolescents who received any mental health services during 2012 to 2015, 35% received their mental health services exclusively from school settings.”

The short- and long-term mental health consequences of the pandemic are profound. Although the CARES Act included some funding for mental health services, the second round of stimulus is bogged down in political fighting while children and families continue to suffer. The delays in meeting children’s mental health needs could alter children’s life trajectories.… Read the rest