Global March

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Child Labour

In 2020 we are continuing to work towards elimination of child labour and promoting decent work for the youth. As a strong supporter of our work, as you may already know about this issue, nevertheless, let’s empower ourselves with more knowledge and join the fight with a stronger determination to win.

Below are 10 facts that you need to know:

1. Not all child work is child labour

Children’s participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive; such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays.

“Child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, that is harmful to physical and mental development and interferes with their schooling, and thus needs to be eliminated.


2. 152 million children are engaged in child labour

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that about 152 million children aged 5 to 17 are engaged in child labour. They are found in hazardous situations or conditions – working in mines, with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, or with dangerous machinery. They toil as domestic workers in homes, workshops and plantations. In almost all regions, boys and girls are equally likely to be involved in child labour, with girls far more likely to be involved in domestic work.

Read more on child labour

3. Child labour perpetuates cycle of poverty

Evidence points to a strong link between household poverty and child labour, and child labour perpetuates poverty across generations by keeping the children of the poor out of school and limiting their prospects for upward social mobility. This lowering of human capital has been linked to slow economic growth and social development.

Read more on our approach


4. Highest prevalence of child labour is in agriculture sector

According to ILO estimates, 70% of child labour exists in the agriculture sector. Much of the work children do in agriculture is not age-appropriate, is likely to be hazardous or interferes with children’s education. For instance, a child under the minimum age for employment who is hired to herd cattle, a child applying pesticides, and a child who works all night on a fishing boat and is too tired to go to school the next day would all be considered child labour.

Know more on child labour estimates

5. Education is key to ending child labour

When schools offer meals, transport and occupational training, abolish tuition fees and eliminate extra costs for parents such as uniforms and books; children can stop engaging in child labour.  Through education, parents and children alike become more aware of its benefits, and the harm that child labour can cause.  Access to education helps reduce poverty, one of the root causes of child labour. An injection of $39 billion could provide quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education to all children by 2030.

Read more on our work on education

6. Child Labour is on a decline

Child labour is preventable, and is within our reach of elimination. The number of children engaged in child labour has declined by one third since 2000. Global March works with governments, civil society, communities and businesses to advocate against child labour, by supporting action for strengthening education and child protection systems to improve access to quality of education and eliminate child labour, along with creation and implementation of robust laws – from bottom to up levels.

Learn more on what we are doing to end child labour

7. The world is committed to end child labour buy 2025

In 2015, UN member states adopted 17 Global Goals for sustainable development, including Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labour by 2025. Eliminating child labour will help address poverty, strengthen economies and positively influence education, health and protection systems worldwide. To achieve this target, Global March is working hand in hand with its global members and partners including through a global alliance called ‘Alliance 8.7’ to end child labour by 2025.

Learn more about Alliance 8.7

8. Businesses have a vital role in ending child labour

The private sector has a crucial role to play in eliminating child labour, which includes establishing supply chains and business practices free of child labour, providing decent work for young workers and ensuring the protection and safety of children. Businesses must take proactive approach in assessing the risks of prevalence of child labour in their supply chains and work towards remediation and prevention of child labour if found. Companies can adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to respect and support children’s rights.

Access Global March’s Practical Guidelines for Companies for Due Diligence on Garment and Sea-food sector here.

9. Communities can make a difference

Child labour begins and ends in communities. Global March supports communities in changing their cultural acceptance of child labour, along with empowering them to realise their rights through awareness raising, access to protective services,  building of democratic structures, withdrawing children from work and enrolling in school; along with devising strategies and programs to provide alternative and sustainable livelihoods to families.

Learn more about Global March’s Child Friendly Village Model

10.You can make a difference now

There are many ways for you to join the fight against child labour – from becoming an ethical consumer to helping us empower communities and sending children to school and supporting Global March’s advocacy activities with governments and businesses to tackle the issue at its source.  Every child deserves every opportunity, no matter what.

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