Education International
Education International

Fifteen years of struggle against child labour

published 17 January 2013 updated 18 January 2013

Fifteen years ago, on 17 January 1998, the Global March Against Child Labour started with an 80,000 km physical march. Thousands of people marched together to jointly put forth the message against child labour and slavery. Joined by Education International, trade unions, teachers’ organisations, child right organisations and children, the march crossed 103 countries building immense awareness for ending child labour.

Back then, the state of child protection from exploitation, trafficking and slavery was rather different from what we see today. Child labour itself was not acknowledged, either in social or political domains, and was considered acceptable and a norm for children from poor and vulnerable backgrounds. Despite the pervasiveness of child labour across the globe (at the time, there were 250 million child labourers), there was no international legislation for tackling it, coupled with a lack of a collective campaign to push for its elimination. The last 15 years brought about significant changes, as the Global March grew from a small group of motivated partners that were joined by many more during this period. Thus, the physical global march of 1998 led to a worldwide campaign to end child labour. It ultimately resulted in an international instrument against child labour: the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 182 on “Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour” - a convention that has been ratified by 177 countries. Nevertheless, child labour is by no means eliminated, and the struggle against it continues. The international community has come to recognise that child labour is an obstacle for the achievement of the Education for All goals, Universal Primary Education and other Millennium Development Goals. “Education International and its member organisations are committed supporters of the international struggle against child labour. Since the foundation of the Global March Against Child Labour, 15 years ago, teachers and their organisations are at the core of the Education For All and child labour elimination initiatives and will continue to be committed to this cause,” said EI President Susan Hopgood. More information on the Global March Against Child Labour is available here. You can read the Global March Against Child Labour’s press release in its entirety here. To learn more about the Education International's work against child labour, please click here. EI’s Video for Union Educators: No to Child Labour! Yes to Education!