June 7, 2023


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U.S calls for better data to #EndChildlabour problem

U.S Deputy Under Secretary of Labor for International Relations, Thea Lee

Our Reporter

Lack of accurate statistics on child labor is evident in many countries and on the African continent.

This means that while there are no real figures, it will continue to be difficult for policy makers to address the issue.

As child labor summit continues in South Africa, the United States is calling for more accurate statistics on child labor for better ending the issue.

Speaking from the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor in Durban, South Africa, the Deputy Under Secretary of Labor for International Relations, Thea Lee said that “This is a moment of crisis, a moment of urgency where we really need everybody – we need governments, we need the media, we need unions and business and civil society – to put our heads together and to be able to address this question.”

 The new figures on global child labor came out recently last year from the International Labor Organization and UNICEF, and the results were disturbing.  It was seen that for the first time in two decades, child labor globally is rising, not falling and so between 2016 and 2020, global – the number of children in child labor globally increased from 152 million to 160 million.  

However, Ms. Thea Lee explained that COVID has actually made Child labour proble much worse, that it has thrown families into poverty and it has disrupted economies and supply chains, and that has put many more children – especially the most vulnerable populations like migrant workers – at even heightened risk.

“So these are the emergencies that we face here, and we know from our work at the U.S. Department of Labor that children workers and adult workers in forced labor are often in the shadows.  Many are out of reach of regulations.  They work in homes, in mines, or in fields that labor inspectors rarely visit and at the bottom end of global supply chains, far out of sight of the consumers who ultimately purchase their products.” she said.

“So we need better data to be able to understand the problems and to be able to solve those problems,” she added.

“We know, for example, that we are not going to get children out of labor if their parents don’t have good jobs, if they don’t have the right to a union, if they don’t have decent pay, if they don’t have a safe and healthy workplace.  So we need to work on these problems together.  We need to put all our resources together.  And there is not a single silver bullet.  There is no one thing.  If it were easy, it would be done already.” she emphasized.


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