Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

A message to the ILO from the world's working children

The ILO wants to eliminate these children's livelihoods without their consent. They have something to say about that

19 May 2022, 8.37am

Young dockyard workers in Bangladesh

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Filip Jandourek/Alamy Stock Photo. All rights reserved

We, as the International Movements of Working Children, demand that all Conventions, Laws, Policies, Guidelines and Programs aimed at guaranteeing the Rights of working children and adolescents worldwide and in our countries, be empathic and sensitive to our various realities. We have the right to be heard and attended to in all matters that affect our lives. Like all children and adolescents, we are citizens today.

The members of our movement include children and adolescents (up to 18 years old) who live in rural and urban areas, we are engaged in occupations or hope to engage in safe and non-hazardous occupations throughout the world. Where state systems and processes have failed us, our work has given us the opportunity to try to lead our lives with dignity, provide for our families and, for many of us, pursue our personal goals such as education etc. We oppose the blind stances that are too often taken by governments and policy-making and enforcement agencies, which unilaterally oppose child and adolescent work without engaging with us and without understanding or addressing our realities, situations, needs and aspirations.

While we are against all forms of exploitation, including unsafe and hazardous labour, human trafficking, bonded labour etc., we also value safe and non-hazardous work. Therefore, we demand that secure work options, earn and learn education opportunities, skills-based training and other enabling opportunities should be part of the global policy demands that inform the actions of national governments. Furthermore, we affirm that in all situations children must be supported to make informed decisions that determine their well-being, including whether or not they choose to do safe work.

We condemn all wars and aggressions in the world, as they continue to victimize children and adolescents. The COVID 19 pandemic has pushed many of us into new struggles. In these situations, with governments and international organizations that do not recognize our realities and needs, working children and adolescents have been pushed into greater exploitation and invisibility.

We oppose the increasing capitalist measures by governments around the world that are plunging our countries into poverty by privatising/ reducing spending on basic services such as health care, education, child and youth development, etc. These policies, measures and decisions push children and their communities over the edge and perpetuate the exploitative child labour.

Recognize that we are agents of change with ideas and even solutions for our problems.

Therefore, we must be consulted in the policy formulations and decisions to mitigate the pain and suffering of children, including working children and adolescents. We want adults to see us as national and global citizens and as important social actors in sustaining our planet and its inhabitants. We denounce the policies of the ILO and other international organizations that focus on blanket bans on child labour. They have failed to understand the realities of working children and the viable alternatives to exploitative labour. We want to discuss with international child and labor rights organizations so that they recognize that we are agents of change with ideas and even solutions for our problems. “We regret that the ILO has neither invited nor consulted the Organised Child Workers in the elaboration and implementation of the Agenda of the “5th Global Conference on Child Labour” in South Africa, except for a few individually selected children and adolescents and adult Civil Society Organisations supporting children. We join the forum proposed by civil society organisations.

We seek to continue to build and strengthen the International Movement of Working Children and Adolescents to become a Platform for Advocacy and Action.

We advocate for open and participative dialogue to deal with issues of interest to all children, not only those of us who demand Decent Work which is safe, dignified, age appropriate , but to all children and adolescents around the world.

“Working girls, boys and adolescents demand that authorities have empathy and understanding with us because we work to cover school expenses, food, clothing; that there is understanding at school because in the pandemic it has been complicated for us to learn quickly without proper internet and this makes it difficult for us to hand in our homework, pay our fees, not be forced to drop out to support our families.We demand that the government create better conditions so that we can continue studying with scholarships and sponsorships, uniforms and other logistical support, that teachers are trained and interested in what happens to us, that our families are given equal opportunities to access work and other relief measures.” ~ MOLACNATS

“We want our families, communities, authorities and governments to see that we are citizens today, we have the right to participate and to make informed choices about our own lives ” ~ CAOC

” Safe, dignified, age appropriate, working conditions which motivate the child/ adolescent and give him/her pride in his/her work. Making a child work in bad conditions, which do not incorporate the above, constitutes exploitation” ~ MAEJT

Sincerely

MOLACNATS – Latin America, AMWCY- Africa, Children: Ambassadors of Change (CAOC) – Asia.


We, the working children and adolescents of Latin America, Africa and Asia, have come together to assert our rights, express our demands and champion our aspirations. As representatives of our movements, (MOLACNATS – Latin America, AMWCY/MAEJT- Africa, Children: Ambassadors of Change (CAOC) – Asia), we have discussed our problems in great detail and have worked to publish a joint statement that attempts to highlight the rights of children and working teenagers from around the world.

We share it, internationally, on the occasion of Child Labour Day on April 30, the day to defend our rights, and “Workers’ Day” on May 1, 2022 and in light of ILO’s 5th Global Conference on Child Labour. Our declaration is addressed to the international organizations that influence, make and enforce policies, to the national governments of our countries and to all the authorities and duty bearers responsible for legislating our rights.

This joint statement was originally published by The Concerned for Working Children.

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