United Nations Aims to End Child Labor by 2030

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Countries throughout the world have denounced child labor, many passing laws banning the use of children as laborers. Yet the practice continues, and in some of the same nations that have cried out against it. From the U.S. to the U.K., Africa, Asia and just about everywhere, child labor remains an ongoing way of life.
Child Labor Statistics
According to the United Nations, some 215 million children are involved in child labor around the world, many at full-time jobs. Of that number, 165 million are considered forced labor. These children are generally between four and 14 years of age, and they rarely have the time or opportunity to play like other children or attend school.
Types of Child Labor
About 50 percent of these children work in environments that are physically dangerous or hazardous to their health, including slavery and prostitution. Examples of their working conditions include:

They may work on tobacco farms, for several hours in extreme heat, around harmful pesticides.
Some of them work in factories, weaving carpet for long hours in poor lighting, even chained to a loom.
Some are forced to squeeze through tight, underground tunnels in search of coal or gems. In gold mines, they work around mercury, which is used to process gold and can cause brain damage, among other health problems.
They may strain to move heavy loads of bricks, either pushing loads with their undersize muscles or balanced heavily on top of their heads.
They may work alongside their parents and siblings to harvest crops; in the U.S., many of these children are illegal aliens, put to work in the fields at a young age.
Some are sold into slavery, including sexual slavery, by parents who cannot feed them or who desperately need the money. Other may be stolen or kidnapped and sold into slavery.

United Nations Goals
The International Labor Organization is an agency of the United Nations that has among its goals ending child labor around the world. This goal is just one of a set of larger goals that U.N. countries adopted in 2015 aimed at sustainable development worldwide. World leaders recognize that, until economic conditions improve for everyone, child labor has little chance of being eradicated.
Developing Nations
Although the problem is everywhere, child labor is at its highest among developing nations, where families are forced to sell or put their children to work as a matter of survival. In sub-Saharan Africa, some 28 percent of children ages five through 14 are at work, making it the region with the largest portion of child laborers. Countries in North Africa, the Pacific, and from Iran to Japan all have an estimated 10 percent of children in that age group at work, while Latin America and the Caribbean have about nine percent.
Uzbekistan Cotton Crop
In Uzbekistan, child labor has been used for many years to harvest the country’s twice-yearly cotton crop. It is a major source of income for the nation, which is the fifth-largest producer worldwide. After continued protests and pressure from the international community, the Central Asia nation ended wide-scale child labor in 2012, with approval from world powers.
Children and Adults at Work
Despite ending the practice, human rights activists contend that the nation continues to use forced labor to harvest cotton, according to the online newspaper, the Guardian. In a follow-up story to previous years’ coverage about the practice of pressing children and adults into slave labor, activists say it is an ongoing issue. They also say that government agencies and police forces have stepped up personal attacks on residents and activists trying to gather supporting evidence. Activists say they have been beaten, harassed and strip-searched in attempts to silence them.
Help for Uzbekistan Children
Organizations developed by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva address issues that Uzbekistan children face. In setting up the You Are Not Alone Foundation, she has worked to improve living conditions for orphans, including ensuring children without parents have access to nutrition and education. Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva has also launched other organizations to tackle medical and educational aid for disabled children and promote sports and education in Uzbekistan.
Other Examples of Progress
Some world agencies and organizations have made progress in ending child labor, with examples that include:

Trade unions in two Indian regions are gaining cooperation through discussions with local employers and officials. Collective agreements are being negotiated to limit child labor.
In Uganda, an employer’s group has initiated several agencies to monitor child labor in important industries, including rice, sugar, tea and coffee production.
Trade unions and agencies representing indigenous people in Latin America and elsewhere are being formed to allow local representation in national committees developed to end child labor.

2030 is Target Date
The United Nations sustainability agreement aims to end worldwide child labor, including slavery and human trafficking, by 2030. That includes areas caught up in war and natural disasters. The organization urges all nations to take fast action to ensure the success of this goal.

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