Education unionists’ unwavering commitment to fight child labour globally

published 3 April 2017 updated 11 April 2017

Education International has reiterated its support for sustainable initiatives to eradicate child labour worldwide, and welcomed the ratification by the Indian government of two international conventions making child labour illegal.

Strategies to eradicate child labour and to multiply rather than duplicate the impact of actions were amongst the outcomes of a meeting of the Board of the Global March Against Child Labour(Global March) on 30-31 March in The Hague, The Netherlands. As a Board member, Education International (EI) attended the meeting of the Global March, an initiative started 20 years ago by Nobel Laureate and current Global March Honorary President Kailash Satyarthi.

“Living in a world where every child is safe, free and educated remains an objective for many trade union and civil society activists,” said EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst. “By cooperating with vibrant networks such as the Global March Against Child Labour and the Stop Child Labour Coalition, EI connects education unions with initiatives delivering unprecedented change.”

India’s ratification of conventions against child labour

During the meeting, Global March Board members were informed that the Government of India has approved the ratification of the two conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) making child labour illegal.

This is a significant step towards the eradication of child labour in a country that has one of the largest population of child labourers. It follows the decision by Canada to ratify the ILO Convention 138 seeking to eliminate child labour through ensuring that children do not leave school prematurely to work.

Including India, 170 countries have now ratified the ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for employment, which will come into force in July 2017. Major non-signatories are Australia, Bangladesh, Iran, New Zealand, and the United States of America.

The Global March Against Child Labour

The Global March is an advocacy platform ensuring that child labour remains high on development agendas, a dynamic network of civil society organisations and unions active in all regions to eradicate child labour through advocacy and programmes.

The Global March also raises funds to sensitise local authorities to the implementation of the sustainable development goals. The goals were adopted in September 2015 by UN’s member states which acknowledged the crucial need to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Through its regional and local coalitions, Global March also develops capacity building on legal actions to stop child domestic labour. Recently, it launched a “Child Friendly Villages” initiative in Uganda, similar to the “Child Labour Free Zones” promoted by the Stop Child Labour Coalition and the Uganda National Teachers' Union, an EI affiliate.

Also, from 8-9 July 2017, over 60 parliamentarians from 35 countries (including Bangladesh, Ghana and India) will meet at the Second Parliamentarians Without Borders’ event in The Hague. This is an initiative launched by the Global March to encourage parliamentarians from various countries to take public action against child labour.