Conscientious drive to weed out child labour

Molly Harriss Olson

Monday, June 12 is World Day Against Child Labour.

World Day Against Child Labour is a chance for Kiwis to think about how their everyday actions can help build a fairer world.

Everyone has the power to ask questions of their favourite brands – whether that is a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate or a cotton T-shirt.

Exploited children

According to the United Nations, around 168 million children are caught up in child labour. More than half are exposed to the worst forms of exploitation, such as slavery, involvement in armed conflict, drug trafficking and prostitution, and are denied the chance to be children.

But it is the agriculture sector where most children work illegally, with an estimated 98 million child labourers worldwide.

The global supply chains for many products that we use every day – chocolate, coffee and cotton, electronics and footwear among them – are frequently opaque.

This makes it hard for consumers to understand the extent of their entanglement with child exploitation. Many of us may be supporting child labour without realising it.

Legislative changes

The United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act, introduced in 2015, has had a significant positive impact on the UK’s corporate leadership. Australia is also looking into the establishment of a Modern Slavery Act, which is “an unmissable opportunity” to drive transparency through our supply chains.

Changing the law will demand more of our largest companies, transform supply chains, actively eliminate child exploitation and promote decent work.

But each of us can also play an important role in eradicating child labour.

Each time we take bite of Fairtrade chocolate, purchase a cup of Fairtrade coffee or take a step in Fairtrade footwear, we are taking a stand against child labour.

About Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand

The international Fairtrade system exists to end poverty through trade. Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand is an independent certification body and non-government organisation which licenses the use of the Fairtrade Mark on almost 3000 products which meet its rigorous social, economic and environmental standards. This independent

label signifies to consumers that farmers and workers across 75 developing countries are getting a better deal from trade.

Today, more than 1.6 million people who work hard to produce coffee, tea, cocoa, cotton, gold and many other products benefit from Fairtrade, which campaigns for as well as enables a fairer system of global trade.

In 2016, Australian retail sales of Fairtrade certified products exceeded $260 million.

About World Day Against Child Labour

The International Labour Organisation launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on June 12, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organisations, as well as millions of people to

highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.

Molly Harriss Olson is Chief Executive Officer of Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand.

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