Fairtrade is committed to fighting the root causes of child labour and preventing abuse and exploitation of children. We specifically choose to work in regions (and products) with a known risk of child labour because this is simply where the most work is needed.
Child labour remains a complex and heartbreaking truth. It is estimated that 152 million children are still in child labour, mainly of whom are working as part of the global food chain.
Child labour has many consequences, some more obvious than others. Being forced to work at an early age robs a victim of their childhood, an education, proper care and in some cases, puts their health at risk. When families are not able to earn a decent living from their crops, and youth lack decent employment opportunities, ending child labour remains very difficult. For a family faced with poverty and hunger, there is often little choice.
Fairtrade works to deal with poverty as a root cause of child labour and we have systems in place that seek to identify cases of child labour in supply chains. When we find instances of child labour, we seek to provide solutions that do not attribute blame.
But let’s be clear and transparent – no one can provide a 100 percent guarantee that a product is free of child labour. What we can guarantee is that if our partners fail to have the right systems in place we will undertake the following actions:
- Immediately implement the appropriate remediation procedures
- Work with national child protection agencies to ensure children’s long-term wellbeing and safety
- Empower producer organisations to understand and manage this complex issue and;
- strengthen their programs and systems to prevent and, if found, address child labour.
Fairtrade’s work does not stop there. We need to address the wider causes of abuse and violence against children; to support them and their communities to take action. This includes workshops and focus groups, community-based monitoring, collaboration with governments and NGOs.