International Cooperation and Development

Marking the World Day against Child Labour amid COVID-19 crisis

News 12 June 2020 Brussels

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Marking the World Day against Child Labour, Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said, “Eradicating child labour is a top priority for the EU, and working proactively to prevent it is all the more urgent right now. As we battle the virus and recover from the socio-economic crisis, children are the first to suffer from poverty and inequality. We must do all we can to protect them and provide them with the best tools for their future.”

The risk of child labour is at its greatest when family members work in the informal economy, have a low and uncertain income and no access to health insurance, unemployment benefits or other forms of social protection. To help the most vulnerable cope with the COVID-19 crisis, the EU supports countries in strengthening and expanding their social protection schemes.

The EU is also helping children go back to school and get a chance of a better future. Ensuring the continuity of education is even more important in times of crisis.

The EU’s CLEAR Cotton project supports child labourers’ reintegration into school. During COVID-19 school closures, the project monitored the children's situation to ensure they do not fall (back) into child labour and drop out completely. It trained teachers in sanitary measures and set up tutorial classes. It also engaged with the children and their communities about the risk of COVID-19 and ways to mitigate it. Classes have now resumed.

International Day against Child Labour

Background

More than 1,000 children and adolescents have already been removed from child labour in the cotton sector in Burkina Faso and Mali and reintegrated in accelerated education and training systems through the project “CLEAR Cotton - Elimination of child labour and forced labour in the cotton, textile and garment value chain, an integrated approach”.

Eradicating child labour is one of the objectives enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is defined as work that is inappropriate for a child's age, affects their education, or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals. Particularly in agriculture, a great deal of the work children carry out is hazardous and age inappropriate, and might therefore interfere with their wellbeing.

Around the world, 152 million children are estimated to be in child labour, half of them suffering its worst forms.

President von der Leyen has reinforced the EU’s commitment to fighting child labour by pledging a “zero-tolerance policy on child labour” in new trade agreements. The EU supports countries in complying with core labour standards.

For more information

The EU-funded project CLEAR Cotton and Story - Clearing cotton from child labour

Outcomes of the conference of 12 June 2019 “United to end child labour in agriculture

In 2017, the European Union participated in the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour. In support of the commitments made in the conference declaration, the EU announced these pledges to fight child labour.”

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