Government invests in fight against child labour

The government and business community and civil society organisations are joining forces in the Fund Against Child Labour (FBK), in order to further curtail this harmful practice. ‘This concerted approach should ensure success in reducing the numbers of children who are forced to work,’ said foreign trade and development minister Sigrid Kaag on the World Day Against Child Labour. ‘Fortunately, child labour is already in decline. But there are still far too many children at work. So we have every reason to step up our efforts.’

Although child labour has been decreasing since the start of the 21st century, there are still 152 million children working around the world. Many of them are forced to work in miserable conditions, in agriculture, mining, the textile industry and other sectors. The UN has resolved that all forms of child labour must be eradicated by 2025. To this end Ms Kaag is earmarking €35 million over a period of five years to combat the practice, on the condition that businesses and NGOs work together. For example, they can cooperate to investigate the possible use of child labour in a company’s supply chain and determine what action can be taken to stop it. They can also team up to offer educational courses to parents, giving parents the skills to increase their own income and avoid having to send their children out to work.

The FBK is one of a series of initiatives resulting from the new policy document ‘Investing in Global Prospects’, which Ms Kaag unveiled last month. ‘Children are our future, so it’s only logical that we try to offer them real opportunities to lead better lives,’ she said. ‘First and foremost, this is better for them. At the same time, it’s also better for the societies they live in.’ The fund follows up an initiative taken in 2017, for which a one-time budget of €5 million was set aside at the request of the House of Representatives. This laid the foundation for a systematic approach to tackling the problem. Current examples of work to tackle child labour include projects in the Ugandan gold mining industry and India’s seed cultivation sector.