Tackling Child Labor: An introduction for business leaders

Tackling Child Labor: An introduction for business leaders

Tackling Child Labor: An introduction for business leaders


Eliminating child labor in all its forms by 2025 is a more ambitious task than ever.

The world is failing on its collective commitment to eliminate child labor in all its forms by 2025, even though we have clear evidence on how to reach our goal. This target, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals, is now more urgent than ever. Recent estimates show that global progress has stalled, and that rates of child labor could increase as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without urgent prevention and mitigation measures, 140 million children will still be in child labor by 2025. 140 million children at risk. 140 million futures on the line. 140 million reasons to act now.

As we take stock during this International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, we must ask ourselves some tough questions. Are governments and businesses working together in synergy? Is the private sector addressing the root causes of child labor, including by guaranteeing decent work and adequate wages
for adults? How can we meaningfully serve those in the informal economy who are often the most vulnerable? And how can we combat harmful gender norms and stereotypes, and ensure access for women and girls to quality education and skills training?

We must find answers to these crucial questions and accelerate global efforts to end the practice of child labor once and for all.

We already know a great deal about how to protect children. We know from evidence and experience that success hinges firmly on reinforcing systems of prevention that ensure child labor does not occur in the first place. To that end, we must work to extend inclusive social protection coverage, promote decent work for adults, improve access to quality education, guarantee that every child is registered at birth, strengthen child protection systems, and ensure that the necessary laws and regulations are in place and enforced to safeguard the rights of children.

This vital work involves all of us – including businesses.

As powerful change agents, there is a unique and important role for CEOs and their corporations to play in building the world we want for children. The multifaceted nature of the challenge requires a comprehensive, immediate and unified business response.

Through their leverage, voice and actions on the ground, businesses can lead, implement and inspire holistic approaches to prevent child labor. These efforts include integrating child rights into core business operations, adopting zero-tolerance approaches, investing in the capacity of suppliers and partners throughout the supply chain to address root causes and supporting working parents with gender-sensitive family- friendly policies. Businesses should also advocate for enabling legal and regulatory frameworks, promote programs to increase the accessibility of quality education, and strengthen data collection and transparency to make child labor visible and shameful.

We hope this report will contribute to a rethinking of what is possible, a reinvigorated faith in the power of collective impact and a commitment to integrate, invest and inspire for sustained and inclusive progress.

Together, we can create a world free of child labor.

One fit for every child. One fit for all of us.

Henrietta Fore Executive Director UNICEF
Peter Bakker President and CEO WBCSD

Read full report here.