A rise of more than 10% in the number of child workers aged between 5 and 9 years was identified in a UNICEF report (The State of Child Workers in India). Despite this startling increase, director of non-profit Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory, Andrew Sesuraj described the figures as the “tip of the iceberg”, stating that the statistics only identify those working in the organised sector.
The manufacturing industry was identified by the report as being one of many where child workers go un-monitored when working alongside their parents. An undercover BBC investigation discovered young children working in Turkish garment factories, producing clothes to be sold in UK stores. Boys as young as 7 years old were found to be working for more than 12 hours per day for very little pay. By hiding out of sight during audits, the use of child workers remains unseen by the fashion brands using these factories.
So, what can be done? UNICEF India noted that “poverty and a lack of livelihood options” as some of the main causes for children being forced into child labour. Could providing education and resources to disadvantaged children reduce the likelihood of them being forced to work?
Back in April, sponsored by Segura, DeliverAid carried out their first African expedition with the aim of achieving 2 key objectives:
- to deliver stationery, toys, books and educational resources, sports equipment and clothing to children in need.
- to supply computer equipment (and the training on how to use it) to promote development and skills to provide greater opportunities for the children in the future.
Whilst there, the DeliverAid team established a number of technology centres, powered by low-cost Raspberry PI computers, which will allow children to learn valuable computer skills. The centres will give children access to digital learning aids such as videos and e-books, hugely increasing the number of resources available to them.
DeliverAid aim to provide a double benefit to those involved in their expeditions – firstly to those receiving the resources overseas and secondly, to the charities that the resources were purchased from. Age UK, Cancer Research and the British Red Cross are amongst the many UK charities that DeliverAid source their supplies from.
The work that DeliverAid carry out overseas provides the education and resources that lead to a better life, away from the slavery and exploitation so common in underprivileged countries. UNICEF India identifies education as “a key to preventing child labour”, noting its proven success at reducing the number of child workers.
Education is described by Global March as empowering people to improve their quality of life and protecting them from “all forms of exploitation”. However, it is not only the exploited that require education. Slave to Fashion notes that there are still 168 million children involved in forms of child labour, yet less than a quarter of brands have transparency of their supply chain as low as their second tier, and so have no knowledge of working conditions.
Child labour, as well as other forms of modern slavery can affect businesses large and small, throughout the globe. However, too few businesses address such issues or recognise how it can affect the business.
Last year, Segura joined forces with some of its partners to offer UK businesses the chance to attend a Modern Slavery Act seminar. With presentations from Shoosmiths and Resilient.World, as well as an eye-opening film from slavery charity Unchosen, the event provided professionals with information and practical solutions to tackle slavery within the supply chain. The ILO identifies informing yourself, and then others about the state of child labour in world as a key factor to overcoming it.
Further education, to impoverished children, to businesses, to governments and to the general public is desperately required. By working together, to identify child slaves and educating them, we could improve their lives and ultimately work towards the eradication of child labour.
Originally Published 08/08/2017