Rome (Italy).June 12, 2023 is the World Day Against Child Labor, established in 2002 by the International Labor Organization (OIL), the United Nations agency that promotes social justice and labor rights, to draw the attention of civil society, in particular of governments, employers, and workers’ organizations, on the urgency of adopting measures to put an end to the forms of exploitation of children and adolescents in the world of work.

“Social justice for all. End child labor!” is the slogan of the 2023 Day. In the last two decades, thanks to the work of the international community, child labor has decreased steadily. However, since 2000, conflicts, crises, and the Covid-19 pandemic have plunged other families into poverty, leading to a sharp increase in child labor again. According to the latest estimates, 160 million children (nearly 1 in 10) are child laborers. 2/3 of them work to contribute to the family income.

Children are thus deprived of education, which prevents them from having better life opportunities and, once they become adults, the absence of the possibility of career mobility keeps them in a continuous state of poverty.

The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor was held in Durban, South Africa in 2022, and the Durban Call to Action sparked a global effort to address its root causes and promote social justice. Pre-pandemic child labor statistics have shown that it can be eliminated if the international community works together.

The goal is therefore to ensure that the elimination of child labor is a priority for States and to develop policies that promote fair trade. Recommendations to States include implementing a robust legal framework regarding labor standards, ensuring access to quality education, creating programs to reduce poverty and socio-economic gaps, and promoting decent work. Furthermore, it has been found that offering young people vocational courses is a good way to ensure that they attend school and at the same time acquire valuable work skills to then support their families in adulthood.

With the World Day Against Child Labor 2023 we therefore invite you to:

– Stronger international action using the Global Coalition for Social Justice as a framework, focused on eliminating child labor;

–  International ratification of ILO Minimum Age Convention 138 (coupled with ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labor, universally ratified in 2020) to provide legal protection to victims of child labor;

– Universal implementation of the Durban Call to Action.

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, in the 97 countries where the Institute is present, work with commitment and perseverance for the abolition of child labor. From 2016 to 2019, the IIMA Human Rights Office conducted a survey of 54 Countries. From this it emerged that the Salesian Sisters gave financial support to 66,358 families, sponsored the education of 58,784 children, provided free education or programs to almost 148,000 children, and carried out 189 projects to promote decent work.

“The way we relate to children, the extent to which we respect their innate human dignity and their fundamental rights, express what kind of adults we are and want to be and what kind of society we want to build” (Pope Francis).


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