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Published October 2021

Forward of report by Marty Walsh Secretary of Labour The United Nations has designated 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour come at a more pivotal time. This summer, the International Labour Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund released the latest global estimates on child labour. Despite years of progress, these new estimates contain a troubling truth. Global estimates of children in child labour rose from 152 million to 160 million, leaving 1 in 10 children trapped in child labour.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of factors may have undermined our progress over the past two decades. A decline in access to education and fragmented social protection systems left millions of children vulnerable to child labour.

The harmful consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are not distributed equally, and these challenges will loom large in the years ahead. COVID-19 made groups that were already vulnerable to workplace exploitation–including migrant and indigenous communities, as well as women and girls–even more vulnerable. And children are the most vulnerable of all.

Eradicating child labour involves not just withdrawing children from child labour but making their families less vulnerable and more resilient. That means strengthening the voice and bargaining power of their parents in the workplace so that they have sustainable alternatives to child labour.

Our Bureau of International Labour Affairs’ Office of Child Labour, Forced Labour, and Human Trafficking is at the vanguard of efforts to end child labour and forced labour globally–at a time when this work is more urgent than ever. As the world leader in technical assistance projects to eradicate child labour and forced labour, we have worked with our partners around the world to assist vulnerable workers and communities severely impacted by the pandemic.

We also have used our world class research on these issues, including the only comprehensive global report on child labour–our flagship

Findings on the Worst

Forms of Child Labour–to raise awareness and provide concrete recommendations for action.In our role as a knowledge generator, we put critical, actionable information about child labour and forced labour in front of governments, NGOs, workers, academics, and businesses. This includes the information in our two apps: Sweat & Toil, which puts more than 1,000 pages of research in the palm of your hand, and Comply Chain, which helps businesses root out child labour and forced labour from their supply chains.

A world free of child labour is an ambitious goal–and a worthy one. Children deserve a world where they are free to develop into successful adults.

I have fought for the rights of working people throughout my career, and I feel privileged to join a worldwide movement to eliminate some of the most egregious labour abuses, including child labour and forced labour.

In 2021 and beyond, let us build back better and move toward a brighter future for all our children.

This report is extensive which includes:

  • Research Focus of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
  • The Pandemic’s Global Impact
  • Risk on the Rise for Vulnerable Groups
  • The Technical Approach: ILAB’s Projects at Work Toward a More Hopeful Future
  • The Year in Review: More Than One Hundred Years of Engagement
  • From Children’s Year to the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 25
    • Overview of 2020 Assessments Overview of Meaningful Efforts Overview of Major Gaps
    • Call to Action
  • The Federal Minimum Ages for Work Wage and Hour Division
  • Employment and Training Administration
  • Norma Flores López
  • International Labour Organization
  • 135 Countries examined
    • Child labour statistics
    • Advancements explored
    • Prevalence and sectoral distribution of child labour
    • Labour laws and enforcement
    • Coordination of government efforts on child labour
    • Social programs to address child labour
    • Suggested government actions to eliminate child labour
Click HERE to download the complete report.

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