“Lets raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods” – Pam Leo
Exploring the global concern that is child labour, ones thoughts are initially drawn to children who work in sweatshops, churning out cheap clothing for sale on our highstreets. We have been conditioned to associate particular brands with child labour and so too to recognise brands which locate themselves at the other end of the spectrum, as ethical products, manufactured in fair environments where the employees receive fair pay and children are not involved in their production. However, do we, as consumers, offer much time to consider the involvement of children in the labour force, outside of the world of textiles? How ethically sound are the foods which we consume? How does the produce make its way from farm to fork and paddock to plate?
The ILO estimates that 60% of all children involved in child labour, work in agriculture, with a total of 98 million boys and girls aged 5-17 years old, involved in farming, fishing, aquaculture, forestry and livestock. So when we think of the world of child labour, we can no longer be drawn to the sweatshop setup. We now find ourselves located in a world of paper, furniture, fish, meat, wood and all of their by-products. It certainly makes for a more challenging consideration of consumerism and the very fact that the majority of child labourers (67.5%) are unpaid family members.
Children who find themselves located within the world of child labour, outside of familial environments, are most often employed to work in dangerous environments where their physicality becomes the driver for engagement. Children employed to make matchsticks, fireworks, operate small pieces of extremely dangerous machinery, to work jobs which adults would find difficult to locate themselves within.
Global outpourings of concern differ greatly with nations agreeing to fairer work environments and to completely wiping out child labour in their midst. However, as governments ratify agreements and declare their shock at statistics and environments of employment, it continues. Children in labour drive economies, they keep the cost of production low and offer a keen workforce who is forced to work to survive and to support their own families. As we move to eradicate child labour and to engage all children in fulltime education, we must consider the impact of this. Whilst we develop more educated future workforces, more literate nations and educated communities, the marginal private costs will deliver themselves much sooner than the marginal social benefits. Who will feed these children who are no longer employed? Who will cover the cost of their education and who will support families whose income streams have been cut off? In an ideal world, governments would, in reality, the case differs. The notion of removing children from the labour force and transferring them to full time education is a tangled web of challenge.
As we move through consumerism, through a rapidly expanding era of globalisation and a spurt in expanding communities, we, as consumers, owe the children of the world our consideration. We owe it to the millions of children to STOP, THINK, ACT when we make our purchases. International outcries for the prosecution of those who employ children continue, the concerning reality is that we are those people. With our daily purchases, we are employing the children. We are the creators of markets for product, we are the voices for the children in the shadows.
We at moeloco are committed to ensuring the children whom we care about are not exposed to child labour. We have sourced ethically sound manufacturers of our flipflops and manage a very safe distribution network. To help us to reach out even further, please consider purchasing a pair of flipflops which will change a childs life, thank you all again for your amazing actions which save futures”
John Patrick O’Sullivan
Moeloco, Policy Consultant