Why we must tackle the scourge of child labor

The agreements reached by governments at the 2021 summit (including G7, G20 and COP26) will shape the world our children inherit. The core focus must be to support their health and well-being, including consideration of trade policies that countries should adopt to create a better future for the children and workers of the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused an economic crisis and promoted Above 8m Americans are below the poverty line in 2020.Globally, the pandemic has caused the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs in 2020, with 119m The world is plunged into poverty.at least 340m Children all over the world are deficient in vitamins. In the U.S, 13m Children face hunger.

Every child in every country should have the freedom and opportunity to realize their full potential; free from hunger, free from harm, free to learn, healthy, and grow up in an economically secure family. Poverty, conflict, discrimination, and government choices destroy too many opportunities for children.

A fairer children’s system and a worker-centered trading system start with the premise that supporting the entire child means supporting the entire family. In order to achieve lasting results, countries must pay attention to core issues such as workers’ rights and child labor, women’s and girls’ rights, and climate change.

A child cleaning up garlic in a market in Lahore, Pakistan © Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images

Workers’ rights and child labor

In order to solve the scourge of child labor, we must recognize the root causes: lack of worker rights, lax law enforcement, and parents’ lack of wages to support their families. No parent wants to send their children to work instead of school.


The number of full-time jobs in 2020 equivalent to the number of hours lost in the Covid pandemic

For a long time, the global fascination with “cheap” goods has neglected the way these goods are produced: exploitative wages, distorted markets, poor working conditions, forced labor, child labor, ignorance of the environment and subsidies.

If democracies ignore the conditions for producing global goods, we will perpetuate the development of authoritarian regimes that repress their citizens for their livelihoods.

This Congress of the American Federation of Labor and Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and a coalition of commercial and non-governmental organizations are advocating for a Global Social Protection FundThis will create a bottom line for working conditions and provide general social protection for workers and their families. Strengthen the protection of workers to create a stronger social and socio-economic structure for children.

Rights of women and girls

Women and girls face discrimination in countries around the world, and laws restrict their rights to property, inheritance, divorce, child custody, banking, and equal access to education. The United Nations estimates that 2.5 billion women and girls live in countries where laws discriminate against them, and 530 million women are illiterate. When girls grow up in a society that discriminates against them, they will be adversely affected throughout their lives. They paid a terrible price. In the end, we all have to pay the price.

The U.S. Congress is working hard to reauthorize the U.S. trade preferences program: the general system of preferences.Include measures Women’s economic empowerment, non-discrimination and human rights Is the core of this effort.Countries should consider adopting the same measures for their own trade preference plans and measures related to trade preference ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment In the office.

The challenge of addressing the cultural and legal barriers that allow discrimination against women and girls is huge. But all nations must act together, using every trade, economic, and diplomatic tool at our disposal to meet this challenge.

climate change

Climate change is an existential threat to human life that we must urgently deal with.This Climate crisis It will increase economic insecurity and exacerbate conflicts.

Trade — and our rules around climate change-related trade terms — will determine whether the world starts to race to the top with high standards to prevent pollution offshore outsourcing, or to compete at the bottom where countries can bypass standards.

The goal of reducing global climate pollution is imminent, but if workers are exploited in the process, it will be empty. The government must commit to involving workers and trade unions, and uphold the climate commitments at the same time as it promises workers.

We must recognize that there are winners and losers in trade. Losses caused by trade often have a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, workers and their children.Policymakers must take more steps to recognize these destructive forces and Take mitigation measures Supporting communities to deal with climate change, Partial decline And adverse trade effects.

Ensuring fair terms of trade is critical to efforts to “rebuild better” on a global scale. These measures are essential to ensure that children grow up in families where their parents are financially safe; in countries where opportunities are not restricted by gender; and in communities that are not torn apart by the impact of climate change.

We should think about policies through a simple framework: “How will this benefit the children of a country?” This question is when we rebuild the global economic system around the principle of equity and embark on a long journey to protect, nurture, and educate our children. Should be our compass.

Countries around the world have a huge opportunity to put policy back at the center of the principle of fairness. Let us commit to the path of making children and their families the moral center of our decision-making; an economic and structural condition that provides a long-term commitment to the community and children; trade is “A force for good“.

© US Senate Photography Studio-John Klemmer

Bob Casey is a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. He serves on the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Special Committee. He is the chair of the HELP Committee’s Children and Families Subcommittee.

Read his full text on the UNICEF website, Here

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