Celebrating 15 years of Stop Child Labour

63,000 children out of work and into school!

Fifteen years ago, Stop Child Labour launched with this credo: “school is the best place to work.” Basically, no child should have to work; every child must be in school. It became a movement, piloting an approach that created child labour free zones: areas where the inhabitants are convinced that child labour should be eliminated and are prepared to take the necessary steps to get all their children out of work and into school.

This “hearts and minds” approach triggered change powered by the communities themselves. Slowly but decisively, social norms started to shift. Together we made change happen in rural areas, villages and cities under very different circumstances. Our activities have reduced child labour and increased school attendance. And communities started to break the cycle of poverty, seeking alternatives ways of earning a living while changing their mindsets and traditions.

Working with local organizations, governments and multinationals

The Stop Child Labour coalition, coordinated by Hivos, includes the Algemene Onderwijsbond (AOb), Mondiaal FNV, Arisa, Kerk in Actie & ICCO Cooperation, Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland and Hivos. We cooperate closely with local organizations in Asia and Africa. And since 2011, Stop Child Labour has been working with governments and companies to reach even further.

Sofie Ovaa, Stop Child Labour programme manager, explains that the coalition started to work with companies because of the important role they could play in eliminating child labour from their sourcing, production and other parts of their supply chains. “Stop Child Labour can act as a broker that links these companies to local organizations to ensure that the children are not only taken out of work, but also reintegrated into the formal education system. Frontrunner companies can set an example and inspire others to take responsibility and solve child labour issues and other workers’ rights violations.”

Tremendous drop in numbers of child laborers

The twenty-first century has seen a tremendous drop in the number of child laborers from almost a quarter billion to 152 million. In the coming decade the coalition plans to join forces with new allies, bringing sustainable solutions for all children and their families. The aim is to reach the point where child labour has ceased to exist.
Looking back at how far the coalition has come, Sofie says, “It has been very inspiring and rewarding to see how we grew from a European campaign with one partner organization in India into a worldwide programme with partner organizations implementing Child Labour Free Zones in many different contexts. We’ve seen lots of positive changes, not only in numbers of children going to school, but also in many other aspects of social-economic development. This is very promising. Now new generations of children will be able to enjoy their childhood and follow the path of education laid out for them.”

Sharing 15 years of best practices

The past 15 years have been a journey full of highlights and lessons. We are proud to share our anniversary webpage and four videos about the impact of our work in Ethiopia, Uganda, Mali and India. These lessons are also summarized in our new publication, Celebrating 15 years of Stop Child Labour.