World Day Against Child Labor: COVID-19 Heightens Risks for Children

June 11, 2020 EcoVadis EN

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed a wide range of risks in supply chains, and related vulnerabilities are being exacerbated by the crisis. Millions of children around the world are at risk of losing their childhood, education and even their lives -- due to child labor.  These are the ones whom we most need to protect. The ILO estimates that, worldwide, 218 million children aged between 5 and 17 are in employment and 152 million of these are victims of child labor; almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous conditions.

  Global Estimates of Child Labour                                    Image source: International Labour Organization

Due to school closures and a reduced workforce, we’re seeing slumps in income and employment as well as increased parental mortality and poverty. COVID-19 heightens the risk of child labor, recruitment by armed groups, sexual exploitation and other forms of exploitation or abuse. Requests have already been made to lower the minimum age for child labor in the coffee sector.

“Experience from previous crisis situations, such as the 2014 Ebola epidemic, has shown that these factors play a particularly strong role in exacerbating the risk to child labor and forced labor.” ILO

Experts warn that COVID-19 outbreak could lead to increase in child labor in different countries and that secondary effects on children in all countries will be unprecedented.World Vision estimates that 30 million children's lives are threatened by health and nutrition problems as "aftershocks" of the Corona pandemic. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labor in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor. This year’s World Day Against Child Labor 2020 on June 12th will focus on the impact of this crisis on child labor. COVID-19 can have an unprecedented negative impact on the life and future of millions of children worldwide. They need to be protected.


The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7  calls for everyone to implement "immediate and effective measures" to eliminate  forced labor, modern slavery and child labor in all forms by 2025
Read Addressing UN Sustainable Goal 8: Helping Automotive Business Tackle Modern Slavery.  


The UNGC and the ILO offer useful information and guidelines for companies to tackle child labor, human and labor rights issues in their supply chains: 

Take a look at our latest white paper Modern Slavery in Supply Chains: New Legislative Landscape and Due Diligence Strategies to learn how you can ensure that you not only comply with legislation, but are doing enough to identify risks and protect Human and Labor Rights in your supply chain.

This article is also available in German -- check it out.


About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

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