17 January 2011: Thirteen years after setting out from Manila on a worldwide movement against child labour, the Global March marks its anniversary today with the goal of building on important developments in 2010 in raising the profile of child labour on the international development agenda. Since its launch on 17th January 1998, the Global March Against Child Labour has been a leading light in the fight against child labour and, in the aftermath of the global economic crisis which is likely to overturn some of the progress made in the last decade, there is more need than ever before of a strong, vibrant and coherent worldwide movement to sustain efforts to eliminate this scourge once and for all.
The Global March brought together a movement of over 2,000 partners in 140 countries to lead strengthen civil society efforts against child labour. As a strong and united voice for NGOs, trade unions, teachers’ associations and individual activists, the Global March has played its part in reminding the international community world that all children must be protected from exploitation and abuse. It also worked closely with partners in highlighting the link between the prevalence of child labour and poor access to and quality of education. Significant progress was made during the late 1990s and early millennium in focusing international development efforts towards the twin goals of tackling child labour and improving the Education For All effort. However, latest reports from the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicate that progress is slowing and, as the economic crisis bites deeper, fears are that some gains may be overturned. Similar challenges face the EFA movement, emphasising the importance of maintaining international advocacy on these related development goals.
2010 was a watershed year in the renewal of global commitments for affirmative action to tackle child labour. The Global Child Labour Conference in The Hague in May 2010 witnessed universal acclaim for the Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016 (Roadmap 2016). Global March was a committed partner in the discussions to develop the Roadmap and remains equally committed to its implementation and follow-up across all economic sectors, particularly agriculture, as part of a broader effort to revitalise the worldwide movement against child labour in 2011. Marking the first anniversary of the Roadmap’s adoption on 11 May 2011, Global March is organising an international multi-stakeholder consultation to examine and discuss its implementation in the garment-manufacturing sector. In addition, it is organising an international conference on the implementation of the Roadmap in the agricultural sector in October 2011.
A key event for the Global March and its partners this year will be the first World Assembly which will be held in Morocco in October 2011. This event will be open to all members and partners and will be a major step forward in efforts to revitalise the worldwide movement against child labour through the launch of a 5-year strategic plan of action, including follow-up to Roadmap 2016 and mainstreaming child labour into Education For All and MDG activities.
Therefore, 2011 will be an important year of opportunities and challenges for Global March. The global economic crisis has also had a major impact on development budgets which in turn will affect the international effort to tackle child labour and the exploitation of vulnerable groups. In establishing a coherent strategic approach to achieve its goals, Global March looks forward to the coming year with optimism and great anticipation, and determination to revitalise and strengthen the worldwide movement against child labour, to protect vulnerable children and ensure they can benefit from their fundamental rights.