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Fair Share to End Child Labour: A summary of a year of action

The Fair Share to End Child Labour campaign, launched at the beginning of 2021 aimed to secure action across a range of different partners and brought together a strong, broad multi-sector coalition from the outset.

Fair Share worked directly with a number of world leaders across Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. For example, the Laureates and Leaders for Children ‘Survivors and Leaders’ event during the 2021 UN General Assembly brought together major UN agencies, international bodies like the African Union, long-standing champions such as the ITUC and a number of national governments.

The campaign resonated so much with the former Prime Minister of Sweden, H.E Mr Stefan Lofven that he has committed to working on child rights, most recently by joining the 5th Global Conference for the Elimination of Child Labour in Durban last month and demanding stronger action from fellow leaders.

(Picture above right: H.E Stefan Löfven with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on stage at the 5th Global Conference)

National youth-, student- and survivor-led Fair Share coalitions were created in 12 African countries in 2021. Together, they held community outreach and sensitization initiatives, co-hosted a social protection session at the Africa regional ILO preparatory conference, recorded survivor-advocate testimonies from across the continent and saw commitments secured from a number of African governments, such as a new National Action Plan in Uganda. Their inspirational work also led to the Justice for Africa’s Children statement which called for an end to child labour, that has been signed by more than 50 Nobel Laureates and 40+ leaders which contributed to a new commitment from the EU / AU heads of state meeting on ‘child rights’. (Picture above left: Youth activists in Tanzania marking World Day Against Child Labour with their local mayor and councillors)

We won’t end child labour without expanding social protection and the work with youth movements also saw the Fair Share campaign organise an umbrella mobilisation last year, demanding social protection for children in countries across the world ahead of a special meeting on social protection at the UNGA. This was complimented by a report from the Laureate and Leaders for Children platform advocating for universal social protection and demonstrated how just $52 billion - 1.4% of what rich countries spend on social protection annually - we could fund benefits for every child and new mother living in a low income country. These initiatives - both made specifically for the Fair Share campaign - helped raise the issue up the political agenda. Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi championed social protection and Universal Child Benefits during the launch of the UN Secretary General’s Global Accelerator last year and the issue of social protection was centre stage during the 5th Global Conference in Durban last month, being one of six points in the Durban Call to Action.

(Picture above left: Child labour survivors at India's Bal Ashram kick start campaign for social protection to end child labour and extreme poverty.)

Engagement with the business community also saw a number of senior leaders commit to action. In June 2022, one of the earliest Fair Share business champions is hosting a session with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi at the World Procurement Conference and the International Organisation of Employers have continued to champion action on child labour. We have seen great progress on the issue of supply chains and Fair Share partners are keeping up the pressure on the EU to take the historic step in enacting compulsory due diligence for the world’s major companies. The work with faith leaders also saw strong commitments from a number of religions and the Fair Share campaign worked directly with the Vatican immediately ahead of the Pope’s strong and historic condemnation of child labour.

Despite these important actions andachievements, the increase in child labour announced by the ILO in 2021 is shameful, and could have been avoided if every child received their fair share of resources, policies and protection. It is a disgrace that world wealth has more than doubled since the first Global Conference for the Elimination of Child Labour 25 years ago yet the number children forced to work in Africa remains the same. How rich do we have to be before the world will end child labour? How rich do we have to be before we decide to provide protection for all our children?

(Picture above right: A young girl in Nairobi, Kenya takes part in the umbrella action for social protection)

The UN Year and the Fair Share campaign have now finished but let us go forward together and build on the momentum to make the elimination of child labour a priority issue for our time.

We invite everyone to continue demanding justice and change for the most marginalised children until child labour ends for every child, everywhere. Visit the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation to find more ways to get involved, and if you are a youth activist or youth- or student-led organisation you can join the 100 Million campaign for further opportunities to act.


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