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Letter from Chairperson

Dear Brothers and Sisters


Greetings from Global March Against Child Labour!

No doubt by now, you are all aware of the Global Conference on Child Labour held in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 10-11 May 2010. The conference brought a new urgency for significant action to be taken on the issue of child labour around the world.. The major points of action that were discussed in the conference were to:

Renew the urgency to tackle the worst forms of child labour.

Scale-up global, national and local level efforts by making action against all forms of child labour an integral part of poverty reduction, social protection and education planning strategies.

Build political and popular commitment to tackle child labour, with social partners and civil society playing a leading role in advocacy and awareness raising efforts.

The challenge facing us all is that the decline of the numbers of children working in the world is too slow and uneven. Global estimates by the ILO set the number of child labourers in the world today at 215 million – only seven million less than the estimated number from the ILO’s 2006 report. At this rate, the 2016 target of eliminating all worst forms of child labour will not be reached. And, as long as child labour blights the world, it remains a serious obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This then was the backdrop to The Hague Conference, out of which emerged a renewed commitment by the international community to strengthen progress towards 2016 in the form of the Roadmap 2016.

We have much still to do and we – stakeholders, partners, concerned individuals – need to work together in a coherent and focused manner to move beyond declarations of intent and to make them a reality for the children today and tomorrow. For Global March, the success of the Roadmap will be dependent on significant improvements and increases across a range of issues, including political will and commitment, human and financial resources, integration and coherence across policy, legislative and programme frameworks at national, regional and international level, provision of good quality, well resourced and accessible public services, particularly to marginalised and vulnerable groups, and more responsible and ethical behaviour by the corporate world. Social engagement and mobilisation are critical in bringing the message of child labour elimination and prevention to general populations and particularly communities where children are at risk of child labour.

Therefore, it becomes more important than ever before for us all to raise massive awareness of the issue of child labour at all levels in our regions and worldwide. After 12 years working in this field of development, we have observed that public campaigning and social mobilisation have been our strongest weapons in the fight to end all forms of child labour. In spite of having less and less funds at our disposal, we have still been able to carry out campaigns throughout Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Europe. We have been able to do this because we recognise our vital role in protecting children’s rights and helping people understand the dangers of child labour and the importance of education. Global March is committed to this endeavour and our motivation and passion for our work are undiminished, in spite of a very real lack of investment by the international community into the worldwide movement to which it often refers but does not support in any tangible way.

The World Day Against Child Labour, held each year on 12 June, is almost upon us. The theme this year is focused around the FIFA 2010 Football World Cup and is entitled: “Go for the Goal: To End Child Labour”. The goal is the one set by the ILO Global Action Plan to eliminate all worst forms of child labour by 2016. As always, Global March sets this goal within the broader framework of eliminating and preventing all forms of child labour. As for previous World Cups, we have launched a social mobilisation campaign at this time to raise awareness and calling for action to be taken by different stakeholders (click here to go to the campaign web page). We firmly believe that ending the economic exploitation of children will only be possible when free, compulsory and good quality state education is assured for all children regardless of their gender, race, religion, and social or economic status. The elimination of child labour and education for all are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, the World Day is also closely linked with the 1Goal campaign and we would urge all our members, partners and supporters to visit the 1Goal web site – www.join1goal.org – and sign up to join.

The new ILO Global Child Labour Report points out that at the current rate of decline, we will not succeed in eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016. It emphasises the importance of all stakeholders taking up the call once again and uniting in global determination to achieve this goal and go for the longer term goal of getting rid of all child labour. In this context, therefore, I would call upon all members and partners to observe the World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June 2010 and to do so with full commitment and decisive action. In this regard, we are sending you a summary plan of action to help in identifying and carrying out relevant activities and linking you to further information.

We would be pleased to publicise any action taken by your organisation or coalition on the Global March web site and through an electronic newsletter we will be producing subsequently. To help us in this endeavour, we urge you to send us reports of World Day related activities and especially photographs if you have any to info@globalmarch.org. One of the key demands of civil society and trade unions should be for governments and UN agencies to ensure greater and meaningful involvement of Global March and its members in national and international planning, implementation and monitoring of child labour elimination and prevention strategies linked to action plans related to the ILO Global Action Plan and especially Roadmap 2016. Without adequate investment to build a strong, coherent, coordinated and well-resourced worldwide movement, these renewed efforts cannot succeed and we will fail the millions of children who are trapped in child labour today, who need our help and support urgently, and future generations at risk.

Yours in solidarity,

Kailash Satyarthi