|Action Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)|
|1. National policies and programmes|
The need for a broad consultation prior to and during the planning process has been underlined. The importance of raising the level of social concern cannot be overstated, for experience over many years and from around the world clearly demonstrates that significant public pressure is often required to make progress on the child labour issue (see Chapter 9). Strong domestic pressure to ensure that policies and programmes on child labour do not remain merely good intentions is crucial to success. In addition, there is a distinct need for organization and coordination. Indeed, child labour seems to be a matter for everyone and no one. In the public sector, the measures taken by a small number of ministries or other institutions seem few and far between and rarely connected. In the private sector, organizations frequently work in a dispersed way and sometimes in competition with each other.
Box 1.8. Social mobilization in Brazil
An important step in eliminating child labour was taken with the establishment in Brazil of the National Forum for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labour. The Forum, coordinated by the Ministry of Labour, is composed of 36 institutions, representing the federal government, employers' and workers' organizations and NGOs. The Forum's mandate is to exchange views and experiences, creating a broad social alliance and securing the base of support for policy and programme implementation. The Forum plays an important role in synthesizing actions and mobilizing various social forces capable of intervening in risky situations, by allocating technical and financial resources to implement projects in the areas of education, health, social assistance, income generation, and so on.
The Forum sets priorities for action in geographical areas and in economic sectors (charcoal, sisal, sugarcane), where child labour is rampant, and promotes the development and implementation of multi-sectoral programmes. It coordinates policy and programme efforts at the federal, state and municipal levels. Integrated Action Programmes are implemented by both the government and civil society, and state, regional and municipal commissions are responsible for coordinating and monitoring these programmes.
The importance of government commitment and active involvement in efforts to address the problem cannot be overemphasized. The attitude of governments to the needs and rights of children is decisive for the protection and the promotion of children's welfare. A positive trend in this respect is the wide range of governmental agencies that are now actively involved in concerted efforts to deal with the problem. No longer is child labour seen as the sole responsibility of labour and/or social welfare ministries. Others, especially the ministries of education, ministries and departments dealing with youth, the family, media and health, and central coordinating units, such as national planning commissions and Prime Ministers' Offices, are becoming increasingly involved. A very positive trend has also been the increased involvement of government institutions at the provincial and municipal levels.
Workers' and employers' organisations are also among the key players in combating child labour. Workers' organizations are increasingly involved (see Chapter 7). They are especially well placed to advocate the rights of children to adequate education while at the same time asserting the rights of adult workers to adequate remuneration, thereby reducing the dependence of poor families on child labour. Employers' organisations have not remained silent in the emerging movement against child labour (see Chapter 6). Dozens of companies in industrialized countries have adopted codes of conduct to demonstrate their commitment against the use of child workers. Non-governmental organisations have long played an important role in addressing the problem and pressuring governments to pay attention to it. The attitude of many of these organizations used to be confrontational, exposing what they considered to be inaction by government. The situation, however, has changed tremendously in recent years, with foes often becoming allies. In several countries, partnerships have emerged between governmental and non-governmental organizations, including employers' and workers' organizations, in addressing the problem. While each partner has its own strengths and weaknesses, the secret of success is to arrive at a formula which builds on each other's work and achivements. Much of the increased pressure for action on child labour can be attributed to this growing social movement.
Box 1.9. From community action to the provincial plan in the north of Thailand
In the northern provinces of Thailand, the prevention of child labour and children in prostitution is no longer an action taken by one or two small NGOs, but a joint effort by all concerned. Children, parents, teachers, local government bodies and NGOs all join hands in a concerted effort against the recruitment of young girls for prostitution and other forms of child labour, a situation which has resulted in many children becoming victims of slave-like practices in recent years. Preventive action is as follows:
Action by NGOs
Because NGOs play an important role in monitoring the problem at community level, IPEC supports them in carrying out campaigns and educational and vocational training programmes aimed at preventing children from being lured into prostitution.
The role of youth
Over the years the beneficiaries have been trained to become defenders of their own rights. They have travelled through villages with puppet shows, drama performances and exhibitions which disseminate information against child trafficking, prostitution and other exploitative forms of child labour. Communities, parents and children are informed about dangers and risks, as well as alternatives to exploitative labour. The entire village is thus mobilized to fight prostitution and to seek better opportunities for their children.
Teachers and schools
Primary school teachers and school authorities are mobilized to function as campaign centres against the problem, and teachers are trained to identify girls at high risk of being trafficked.
Coordinating and networking
While promoting the roles of the various key actors, the programme also calls for greater cooperation between them. A working group was set up, including representatives of provincial academic institutions, schools, provincial labour and welfare offices, and NGOs. The working group met on a regular basis to review progress, examine the obstacles and devise strategies to overcome them. In addition, through this coordination mechanism, a study on child labour, child trafficking and children in prostitution at the provincial level was conducted.