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International Partnerships

To eradicate child labour we must focus our attention on agriculture

The causes of child labour in agriculture

Progress in eliminating child labour in agriculture has been slow for a variety of reasons. There is generally limited coverage of agriculture and family undertakings in national labour legislation, limited unionisation, labour force fragmentation, low capacity of labour inspectors and the phenomenon is largely hidden.

Poverty and inequalities are the main drivers of child labour in agriculture, similar to other sectors. However other factors include limited access to quality education, weak infrastructure, lack of social protection, low revenues from crops, inadequate agricultural technology or practices, the lack of resources for paid adult labour, climate and other vulnerabilities, weak empowerment of women and traditional attitudes towards children’s full-time participation in agricultural activities.

Meeting international commitments

The international community, including the European Union, has committed to the eradication of child labour contributing to the Sustainable Development Goal target 8.7 of ending child labour in all its forms by 2025.

However, this is increasingly looking less likely. This is why we need renewed commitments and coordinated actions and efforts by all: governments, private sector, civil society, communities, trade unions and other stakeholders. The solutions are known, it is the firm engagement, resources and coordination that need reinvigorating.

When children are freed from the burden of child labour, they are able to fully realise their right to healthy development.

What can we do

A number of recommendations have been put forward by EU studies and workshops on the topic of child labour in agriculture, they include:

  • Increase livelihoods in rural areas with support to decent work opportunities, social protection, education and infrastructure.
  • Establish multi-stakeholder platforms at all levels to eliminate child labour.
  • Adopt a systems approach with continual improvement of initiatives.
  • Build on and expand due diligence accountability systems of all stakeholders.
  • Establish and reinforce partnerships and initiatives between governments and corporate actors, aligned with international conventions, standards, guidelines and national policies.
  • Strengthen an enabling environment for reduced child labour with particular attention to local development planning and implementation, and localities at high-risk.
  • Create and reform accessible Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems that match labour market needs in the areas with high prevalence of labour.
  • Establish and strengthen farmer-based organisations and give communities a voice for effective functioning and contributing to reducing child labour.
  • Implement social behaviour change communications on child labour elimination and raise awareness on the harmful effects of child labour.
  • Increase knowledge and data generation and sharing, supporting disaggregated data collection for improved child labour statistics with national and international statistics offices.

What else is happening

  • The ILO and UNICEF will release on 10 June the new global estimates and trends on child labour (2016-2020), under the aegis of Alliance 8.7
  • 12 June is the World Day against Child Labour which is the culminating event of the International Year. The song competition winner will be announced on that occasion.
  • The FAO has announced a ‘Call for action on ending child labour in agriculture’ and the deadline is 14 June 2021
  • INTPA will publish a report on the study on Child labour in the Cocoa production in next month’s. article for June and to mark the World Day Against Child Labour.

Find out about all the latest events and announcements of the International Year here.



Additional resources:

Upcoming events and key dates:

  • 10-17 June: World Day Against Child Labour: "Week of Action": The World Day "Week of Action" calendar of events (for virtual events) and interactive map (for virtual and non-virtual events/activities) is online here.
  • 2 June: Documenting child labour: A talk with humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine, organised by ILO New York, Luxembourg, EU and UNICEF. This virtual side event will consist of a virtual exhibition and interactive discussion with humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine to raise awareness about child labour and galvanize action in line with SDG Target 8.7. RSVP here.
  • 10 June:ILO release of the new Global Estimates and Trends on Child Labour, 2016-2020 and high level event, see here.
  • 11 June:Together to End Child Labour: A high-level event to mark the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, organised by the EU, ILO, Unicef and Luxembourg, register here.
  • 11 June: A Growing Problem: The Pandemic’s Impact and the Challenge of Child Labor in Agriculture, organised by ILO Washington, Child Labour Coalition. This event will feature two panels on child labour in the US agriculture sector. The agenda and information about how to register is available here
  • 12 June : World Day Against Child Labour, find out what is happening on the international year’s website here.
  • 11June:Sing along with the EU against Child Labour in Ghana - Live Song Concert, EU Delegation to Ghana, find out more here.
  • 17 June: High-level Dialogue for Action on Child Labour organised by the EU, the ILO and UNICEF as part of the global week of action to mark the World Day and will be attended by EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen.
  • 2-3 November: EU-FAO-ILO High level conference on child labour in agriculture (details forthcoming)