10 measures to strengthen social protection systems to end child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean

10 de June de 2022

World Day Against Child Labor

How can social protection contribute to the fight against child labour? An urgent call in the framework of the World Day Against Child Labour 2022 on 12 June.

Lima - There is an inextricable link between the social protection of families and the rights of children and adolescents to be free from child labour. However, a recent report by ILO and UNICEF has warned of a significant gap in social protection coverage, with only 26.4 per cent of children and adolescents worldwide, and 41.5 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, having access to effective social protection coverage.

It is the responsibility of governments to deploy a range of measures to promote social protection to reach both households where there is child labour and those vulnerable to child labour. According to the study, if policy makers do not act decisively, the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts, increasing poverty and climate change could increase the prevalence of child labour.

The report argues that to achieve the elimination of child labour, a systemic approach and effective policies that strengthen social protection systems, education and decent work opportunities for mothers, fathers and caregivers are indispensable to address the conditions that drive child labour.              

What measures do we need to take in the Latin America and the Caribbean region to strengthen social protection systems to end child labour?

1. Generate statistics: Collecting and analysing data on households and the extent to which their rights are being fulfilled is crucial to making evidence-based decisions on child labour.
2. Having records on vulnerable families: identifying the needs of families and knowing where they are located will allow public measures to have a real reach to all households, designing targeted measures for the most vulnerable.
3. Implement the Child Labour Risk Identification Model (CLRISK): the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour has developed an instrument to predict the likelihood of child labour at territorial level, which allows for the design of better strategies to address and interrupt the emergence of child labour. Implementing this tool within public policies is a way to shorten the path to achieving Target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda (which calls for ending child labour in all its forms), optimising existing resources in each country and at zero cost.
4. Recognise the fight against child labour as a national priority: political will at all levels of government is key to making measures to tackle child labour viable in an agile, efficient and coordinated manner.
5. Budget allocations for measures to tackle child labour: With available resources, it is possible to improve care and increase the impact of care for children and adolescents in child labour and their families, or those at risk of child labour.
6. Monitor the relationship between dropping out of school and child labour: There is a very close relationship between child labour and dropping out of school, as both activities compete in terms of time and effort. In many cases, children and adolescents who engage in both activities suffer consequences in terms of student performance, fall behind in school or are forced to drop out of school. It is therefore essential to actively monitor dropout cases, examine their causes and link these cases to measures for the restitution of their rights.
7. Promote decent work for adults: In households with unstable incomes and services, children and adolescents are more likely to be pushed into work. It is therefore essential that decent work is a right that reaches all adults, who are responsible for sustaining household income.
8. Support working mothers: In the countries of the region, it is women who devote the most time to care and household maintenance work; however, performing these tasks constitutes the exercise of unpaid work which, in most cases, has an impact on paid work. As a result, many working mothers find it difficult to perform their work on par with other women without children and men. Promoting equal access to and continuation of decent work is key to strengthening household stability. 
9. Correlate policies for children and adolescents with policies for the prevention and eradication of child labour: living without child labour is a right that corresponds to all children and adolescents; and this objective must be included in policies that promote the rights of children and adolescents. Integrating measures aimed at this population means optimising financial and human resources and offering children and adolescents better opportunities for development.
10. Focus on adolescents, who are at greater risk of dropping out of school due to entering the labour market: Adolescents are often seen as people who are prepared for adult life; however, due to their proximity to the age of majority, they are a group for special attention because they are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school. In this sense, programmes that incorporate adolescents are key to preventing them from interrupting their educational trajectories and enabling them to access jobs with better conditions in their adult years, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.

Child labour is a complex reality that is due to a multiplicity of causes; therefore, it needs sectoral integration in order to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Implementing an intersectional approach to child labour is crucial not only to reduce child labour rates, but also to ensure that the most invisible populations are not excluded from progress: girls and adolescents, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, migrant families, among others.

What can you do to join the global movement against child labour?

1. As an authority: generate policies and initiatives that contribute to family social protection, decent work for adults and access to quality education.
2. As a company: build supply chains that promote human rights and are free of child labour.
3. As a workers' organisation: contribute to awareness-raising and research on child labour.
4. As a consumer: research the provenance of products and services to be consumed; prioritise the purchase of child labour free items.
5. As a community: dialogue with those in your immediate environment on the issue, support the dissemination of campaigns, denounce cases of child labour.

We encourage you to spread the word! Child labour is a reality that may not be visible to people's eyes. Introducing this issue in your work, academic and social spaces is fundamental to keeping communities aware of this problem. Share in your social networks the material developed for Latin American and Caribbean countries.

*The Regional Initiative Latin America and Caribbean is a platform promoted by 30 countries in the region (governments, employers' organisations and workers' organisations), with the support of the ILO, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID) and the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).

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