For a region #WithoutChildLabour: Towards 2025

15 de December de 2021

Año internacional

Latin america and the caribbean

Progress and challenges in the elimination of child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As part of the commemoration of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021, governments, employers' and workers' organizations, civil society and the community at large came together on Wednesday 15 December to raise their voices for the 8.2 million working children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The event began with the testimonies of Noemí Rosales, member of the Asociación Civil Crecer Juntos (Argentina), and Henry Pilco, community promoter in the child labour programme of the Centro de Desarrollo y Autogestión - DYA (Ecuador). Henry and Noemí are two young people who worked during their childhood and who today are committed, on a daily basis, to the prevention and elimination of child labour through the organisations to which they belong.  During their interventions, they shared the challenges they faced, the differentiated risks that exist for boys and girls in situations of child labour, as well as the opportunities they found along the way, so that they are now young leaders committed to the prevention of child labour.

The meeting was also attended by the Regional Director of the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vinícius Pinheiro, who highlighted that the reduction in family income and the closure of schools due to COVID-19 are a ‘push factor’ for children to enter the labour market prematurely. In this context, he emphasised that we must prioritise educational issues and added that "this emergency must be included in the work being done on distributive policies, employment formalisation policies, policies that promote decent work for families and that are associated with social protection, and policies related to educational infrastructure".

During the event, actions implemented throughout 2021 to prevent and eliminate child labour were also shared by governments and employers' and workers' organizations that are members of the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour, a regional network of 30 countries, based on social dialogue and aligned with target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which calls to end child labour in all its forms by 2025.


Of the millions of children and adolescents working in Latin America and the Caribbean, thousands have been forced to leave their communities of origin in search of work opportunities, improved income, family reunification or to flee violence. During the different stages of migration, they are exposed to the worst forms of child labour, such as human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Despite the fact that in recent years there has been more information on the subject, this link is still not very visible in the media and political agendas. For this reason, the meeting included a thematic segment on migration and child labour, with the participation of María Olave, Subregional Coordinator for Labour Migration and Human Mobility at the ILO Office for the Andean Countries, and Javier Sancho Más, journalist and representative of the media outlet Otras Miradas, who has recently developed a journalistic special on child labour, human trafficking and migration.

In her intervention, María Olave pointed out that "the types of displacement that characterise the region are massive, sudden and even forced, due to economic, political and environmental crises and, in short, to the absence of opportunities. In this sense, this type of migration opens the door to different forms and risks of child labour, precisely because of the factors that characterise it, such as the lack of access to social protection and safe and quality jobs for these families.” In this regard, she highlighted the usefulness of tools such as the Child Labour Risk Identification Model (CLRISK), which shows how factors such as informal, insecure and unstable work of the head of household generate a greater likelihood of child labour in the territories.

For his part, Javier Sancho called for greater visibility of this reality with greater proximity to vulnerable children and adolescents. He said that it is up to the media to tell the stories behind the data, to continue to report on the link between migration and child labour from where children and adolescents live, which is on the streets.


The next global destination on the journey for prevention and elimination of child labour is scheduled to take place in May 2022, in South Africa.

Ana López, Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat of the Regional Initiative Latina America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour, said that the V Global Conference will give continuity to the progress made in 2021 and will allow us to keep the issue on the political agenda of the recovery from the pandemic to strengthen our response. In this framework, she made an urgent call to continue transforming our commitments into innovative and effective actions that will allow Latin America and the Caribbean to emerge from this crisis with fairer and more resilient societies.

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