Child labor

Child labor

States parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and not to be drawn into any work that involves dangers, hinders the child’s upbringing or the child’s health or physical, mental, emotional, moral or social development could harm.

Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 32

The United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) established the International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor in 1992 and has been fighting for a ban on child labor ever since. In 2000, a further convention was adopted as a reference to the Convention on the Rights of the Child “Prohibition and Immediate Action to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor” (Convention 182).

The ILO is committed to eradicating the worst forms of child labor by 2016.

The ILO’s global action plan is aimed at this

Increased involvement and support of the member states
Strengthening the global movement against child labor
Integrate child labor issues into ILO strategies to promote decent work for all.

Causes of Child Labor

  • economic imbalance
    Poverty forces many families to put their children to work. Even at a very young age, the children work in the fields (often the only income for many families in developing countries) and earn their livelihood. In most cases the families cannot afford the school fees at all. Work comes first because it is imperative for families to survive. Children are also predominantly put into unqualified, hard and unfortunately far too often exploitative work, so that they cannot even get a proper education or learn a trade.
    A lack of education is both a consequence and a cause of child labor. Children and young people are often too weak to attend school or they cannot find time to attend classes because of their work. Without education it will never be possible for the children to find a qualified and well-paid job and thus break out of their poverty.
    Regulations in industrialized and developing countries and the demand for cheaply produced goods mean that the number of child laborers is so serious.
    In finding a single cause for the high number of child laborers, we will easily reach our limits. Child labor, as it is observed worldwide, is a composition of several cultural and social realities from which child labor results.

    Consequences of child labor

    Lack of education and school leaving certificates
    Psychological and physical damage

Current figures worldwide

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are still 215 million children working around the world, at least 115 million of them in the most inhumane and exploitative form of child labor. 10 percent of children between the ages of 5-14 work. Child labor has decreased by 3% in the past four years. In 2004 the number was only seven million fewer.

The YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need, an initiative of UNESCO Special Envoy Dr. h.c. Ute-Henriette Ohoven, is committed to education for the poorest of the poor worldwide.



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