What Obstacles Are There in the Fight to End Child Labor?
In Target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, member nations are obliged to take “immediate and effective measures to … secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.”1
However, there are various obstacles to achieving this goal.
Obstacle 1 – Lip Service
Some countries and industries just pay lip service to combatting child labor, rather than actually taking appropriate action to stop it. Verisk Maplecroft performed a study that exposed this lip service:
“Companies need to be able to differentiate between the states taking appropriate action to stop child labour and those that are just paying lip service. If they don’t, they are likely to find themselves exposed to the reputational, financial and even legal costs of child labour violations in their supply chains.”2
Obstacle 2 – Intransigence
Intransigence is the refusal to change one’s views about something. For example, Pakistan has agreed to the Conventional on the Rights of the Child and they have even enacted laws to end child labor, but the implementation of those laws has never occurred and the laws aren’t enforced. UNICEF reports that 3.3 million children are engaged in child labor in Pakistan.3
Obstacle 3 – Limited Resources
In some instances, countries are simply “chronically underfunded and understaffed,” and if penalties are imposed, they often “amount to no more than a slap on the wrist.”4 This makes enforcing child labor laws difficult.
Obstacle 4 – Pushback
Pushback comes both from families and the industries in which children work. Many people feel that child labor helps families have food, clothing and shelter. In reality, child labor continues the family’s cycle of poverty.5
GFA World has been working in Asia since 1979, and more recently in Africa, helping families who live in poverty. We provide helpful resources in the fight against child labor. We aim to change the mindset of acceptance that is found in many cultures where children are a means of income. Instead, we help families value education. Please join us in this mission.Learn more about child labor examples
1 “Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. June 2019. https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030-goal8.html.
2 Haynes, Sam. “Countries Falling Short on Commitments to Wipe Out Practice.” Verisk Maplecroft. 19 July 2017. https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/child-labour-index-countries-falling-short-on-commitments-to-wipe-out-practice/.
3 “Child Protection.” UNICEF. Accessed April 2022. https://www.unicef.org/pakistan/child-protection-0#_ftn1.
4 Haynes, Sam. “Countries Falling Short on Commitments to Wipe Out Practice.” Verisk Maplecroft. 19 July 2017. https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/child-labour-index-countries-falling-short-on-commitments-to-wipe-out-practice/.
5 Gutheil, Lou. “Child Labor: Not Gone, but Forgotten” GFA World. 9 July 2019. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/child-labor-today.
* ILO Asia-Pacific. Flickr. https://flickr.com/photos/iloasiapacific/8762242147/. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)