Today marks the World Day against child labour. It is estimated that 215 million children worldwide are in work. This prevents the child from getting an education and from having time to play as an important part of a child’s mental development denying them their right to be a child. In half the cases of child labour, children even face physical and/or mental violence, lack of nutrition and care etc. This violates the children’s rights from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Fair Trade movement works towards eliminating child labour with Fair Trade Principle 5 which states “No Child Labour, No Forced Labour”. By doing this, the movement supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG 4 “Quality Education” or 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”. All members that are guaranteed by WFTO-Europe, adhere to the Fair Trade Principles ensuring that each principle is kept throughout their supply chain. When you buy products with the WFTO label, you are guaranteed that the product has not been produced and traded with child labour.
Child labour is especially an immense problem in the chocolate and textile industry where human rights and children’s rights violations in the productions are a well-known reality.
In the chocolate industry, this issue comes from child slavery in many West African cocoa fields. Here, children are victims of human trafficking and are forced to work long hours for no payment in the cocoa fields losing their childhood.
In the textile industry, the issue of child labour comes from consumer demands in Europe. With Fast Fashion, companies constantly seek to minimize prices resulting in the use of child workers who are willing to work for a low payment or who are being tricked into work.
A report by UNICEF and the Guardian explains that:
“Child labour is a particular issue for fashion because much of the supply chain requires low-skilled labour and some tasks are even better suited to children than adults. In cotton picking, employers prefer to hire children for their small fingers, which do not damage the crop”.
When we buy cheap clothes in Europe, we do so at the sacrifice of children in the developing world. Therefore, we have the power to change these abuses.
Look out for our Fair Trade label next time you buy chocolate or textile products. For example, you can buy chocolate from GEPA or Bouga Cacao and clothing from People Tree, Elvang, Sari Fair Fashion or Re-Wrap.
You can help make an end to these devastating abuses. You can help protect children’s rights and achieve the SDGs. Everyone can be an Agent for Change with small efforts.
Be an Agent for Change by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter. Learn more about how to be an Agent for Change and make a real change to society here.
Photo credit (edited by WFTO-Europe): Adam Lai