World Day Against Child Labor

Posted by Barbara Shailor
June 12, 2013
A Child Works at a Clothes-Dying Factory

Each year since 2002, the international community has come together on June 12 to mark World Day Against Child Labor.  According to estimates of the International Labor Organization (ILO), over 215 million children worldwide are engaged in child labor.  This year, we call particular attention to the plight of those children – mostly girls – who are engaged in domestic work. 

Globally, domestic workers comprise a significant part of the modern service economy, and all indications are that the number of domestic workers is increasing steadily in both developed and developing countries.  Most domestic workers work for private households, usually without contracts or clear terms of employment.  Because most domestic work is by informal arrangement, behind closed doors, and with no contracts or clear terms of employment, these workers are often invisible.  This hidden crisis requires multiple strategies and forms of engagement.

The United States remains steadfast in our support of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.  On the subject of children in particular, Convention 189 requires that children above the minimum age for employment must be given special protection when employed in domestic work.   The Convention calls for a minimum age for entry into domestic work and provides that children between the ages of 15 and 18 should not be deprived of compulsory education or opportunities for vocational training because they work.

To fully eradicate the worst forms of child labor, in particular in domestic work, we must deal with the root causes of this devastating problem.  Among these are inequality, inadequate access to education, and a lack of decent work for parents. We can help families to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty by providing them with meaningful alternatives to sending their child to work.  National governments have a critical role to play in this endeavor through the laws they pass and the job and education programs they create.  Engagement at the grassroots level by NGOs and civil society groups is also essential.  On this June 12, World Day Against Child Labor, and every day, we join our partners in the international community in standing up for children and declaring “no to child labor in domestic work.” 

About the Author: Barbara Shailor serves as Special Representative for International Labor Affairs.



Eric J.
United States
June 12, 2013

“no to child labor in domestic work.”

I would understand this to pertain to the civil and commercial sector, but you still need to teach kids to pick up after themselves and develop a sense of responsibility to learn.

If a fellow out in the world is to teach his kids the "family buisiness", say he's a mechanic, works on cars. He's a "home schooling parent" when he has his todlers sorting nuts and bolts out of a pile that's been washed up. They'll know their metric sizes by sight, before they would have ordinarily finished nursery school.

Some kids play with blocks and Legos, I remember pulling and straitening nails from old lumber to help my dad out build something or other.

Some might call that form of child labor an "internship" (chuckle).

As a governmenmt, how are we to convince other governments to convince their people , parents or future parents most of them, that it is up to them to break the bonds of economic slavery that puts their kids at risk, and their government is open to ideas?


Elsa F.
Cabo Verde
June 12, 2013

I think child labor is an issue pretty much related to poverty in developing countries. Many parents see having children as a guarantee for income in the family. In this respect, the more children you have, better guarantees you have. Children are supposed to help in house chores and also with other responsilities at very early age and many times they never learn how to be a child. Often times they support families and resposibilize for the balance of the economy by providing their labor in exchange of money or other benefits. I this this is the case of Cape Verde, the country where I was born around 40 decades ago.

The situation is pretty much different in other countries where child labour goes beyond families boundaries and is sucject of exploitation from adults.

We do have child labor; it is very associated to poverty in a sense that in most of cases children who practice it come from low income families who sttrugle for survival.

However, msot of the times it is considered part of the growth learning process, meaning that children to learn to work by working. I am thinking about certain responsibilities like feeding animals, fetching water or during the Azagua season (rainy season in CV) when tasks are divided between boys and girls (indispenable) for the success of the operation.


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