Global march against child labor

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The global march against child labor came about in 1998, following the significant response concerning the desire to end child labor. It was a grassroot movement that motivated many individuals and organizations to come together and fight against child labor and not an annual march.

The main goals of this movement was to:


This march began on January 17, 1998 under the leadership of Kailash Satyarthi [2] This event was a global conjuncture that brought non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, teachers, children and individuals together to fight against child labour. People from all over the world came together. There were people who marched only within their region and there were others who continued to Geneva, Switzerland. They were called the core marchers.

The marchers united and advanced through Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. Their final destination was Geneva, Switzerland where the International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting was taking place. At this conference, the issues of child labour and implementing new policies in order to prevent it on the global level were discussed. This march was significant at the ILO convention against the worst forms of child labor otherwise known as Convention no. 182, because:

  1. The marchers' opinions were heavily considered while writing out the draft.
  2. Also, it became the fastest ratified convention in the history of ILO with 150 countries adopting this draft.

This march was important to children in the work field since the underlying cause was to banish economic exploitation, not only in labor fields, but also through human trafficking where children are usually sold off for commercial services.

For those students that were not able to physically participate in the march, they were able to participate in an Online March sponsored by the Massachusetts-based Kids Campaign to “Build a School for Iqbal”. Over 3,000 classrooms with students published messages on the Global March web page.[3]

Several goals were created and collectively agreed upon by the delegates of the supporting organizations for the Global March:[3]

  • Increase attention and consciousness in regards to child labor
  • Encourage the ratification and implementation of surviving child labor and education conventions and laws by states
  • Assemble the most achievable national and international resources to sustain education for all children
  • Marshal public opinion and engagement against the extensive prejudices contributing to child labor
  • Commanding the urgent eradication of the majority of oppressive forms of child labor
  • Endorse constructive actions by consumers and employees
  • Guarantee adequate treatments and reincorporation of child laborers

Organizations that are Involved[edit]

Currently, there are many organizations that supported the cause of the global march:[4]

International Steering Committee[edit]

An International Steering Committee (membership is pulled from almost every continent) for the Global March against child labor was formed and consisted of:


This march was important to children because it discourages them to experience economic exploitation in the labor field such as human trafficking. The policies that were introduced through this march emphasized highly on education. When children are educated it helps the economy since they are more likely to get out of their poverty stricken situation. By limiting education, it is limiting the prosperity

Origins of this March[edit]

The march had 140 different countries that participated the act with thousands of partners.[5] It consisted of events, rallies, foot marches and bus caravans.[6] The first country that began the march was in Manila, Philippines on January 17, 1998. The marches took place in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the United States. Out of all of those people who participated in the march, only the select few known as the core marchers moved on to Geneva, Switzerland where the ILO were meeting for a possible revision of a new international convention on the most intolerable forms of child labor (Convention no. 182).[7]

The United States led their own nationwide march. It began in Los Angeles, California on May 2, 1998. The marchers went through all the major cities such as: Dallas, Little Rock, St Louis, Detroit and New York. The last city they visited was Washington, D.C. on May 26, 1998. From there, the core marchers went to Geneva, Switzerland. "The U.S. march has two main goals: to focus attention on domestic child labor problems, particularly those related to sweatshops and migrant agricultural work, and to encourage consumers to demand, retailers to sell and manufacturers to produce child-labor-free goods".[7]

Within their nationwide march many organizations got actively involved. These U.S. organizations co-sponsored the Global March against Child Labor.[8]

Rise to Prominence[edit]

The march was a success since the revision of a new international convention on the most intolerable forms of child labor Convention No 182 was changed the following year. Through this march, Convention no. 182 became the fastest ratified law.[9] This decree became the guideline for governments internationally when creating labor laws. Currently, over 150 countries have adopted Convention no. 182 in their own nation.

Kailash Satyarthi is largely responsible for taking the initiative of organizing this march. He had a vision of eliminating child labor everywhere and allowing education to become highly accessible for children. Kailash Satyarthi was the moving force in shifting our attention to child labor as a social issue. Through his tireless efforts, he has “brought political and judiciary machinery into action, and sensitized media in favor of the most oppressed children”.[10] His work did not stop after this march instead, he moved on to other projects such as Global Campaign for Education to promote universal education.


This march initiated other events to come together to fight against child labor. The march spread the awareness of eliminating child labor in our society and worldwide. Here are some examples of events that branched off from this march:

  • South Asian March against Child Trafficking
  • UN announced the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
  • Global Campaign for Education
  • The World Cup Campaign 2002
  • Fair Chocolate for the World
  • Northern Advocacy Office in Washington D.C.

The First Children’s World Congress on Child Labour[edit]

The First Children’s World Congress on Child Labour (CWWCL) was held in May 2004 in Florence, Italy. The event was organized by the Global March against Child Labor and other grassroots organizations.

Children were invited to the event through selection where at the Congress they were able to interact and communicate their views on the most pertinent concerns connected to their childhood and adolescence. They disclosed their experiences, dreams and ambitions as well as partake in various activities that lead to the formation of Action Plans. The selections for the Congress were made through democratic consultation processes (nominated by other children) at the national and local levels. Most of the representatives were former child laborers that got assistance from education and vocational training in local civic organizations or treatment centers; however some were still working so they could pay for their education and some were chosen to represent associations such as Trade Unions and Child Rights Organizations.

This Congress was significant because it was the first Congress where children were the focus and were the chief spokespersons, decision makers and recipients. Approximately 200 children ages 11 to 17 were in attendance. The children that took part in the Congress came from diverse backgrounds and cultures and represented various regions, countries and organizations

This conference was crucial in understanding child labor and work exploitation[11]

Facts and Statistics[edit]

  • 1997: ILO estimated between 100 million and 200 million child laborers in the world[3]
  • 2004: ILO estimated that there were 218 million child laborers worldwide, with 7 of 10 working in agriculture
  • In order to globally abolish child labor, ILO approximates an expense of $38 billion per year for 20 years.
  • In 2001, Indian government confessed to having 12.7 million child laborers
  • In Brazil in order to convince parents to send their children to school instead of work, the government pays families $4.50 per child a month. Currently, there are more than 1 million participants[12]
  • In Guatemala, female child laborers typically work 21 hours a week on domestic responsibilities coupled with a 40-hour working week beyond this.[13]


At a match against Germany on April 17, 2002, the Argentina National Team demonstrated their unity on abolishing child labor. They lifted a banner that read, “The only work for children should be to go to school"[14]

On January 17, 2004, the Global March against Child Labor celebrated its 6th anniversary in Quezon City. The celebration was held at the Occupational Safety and Health Center where more than 5,000 children and their parents marched from Quezon Memorial Circle to honor the movement. The ILO, government organizations, churches and other organizations were present at the celebration.

Political candidates were invited in hopes of convincing them to incorporate child labor issue in their platforms. The candidates were introduced to the issue of child labor and conversed with the children.

After the traditional signing of the RA 9231 all participants joined hands in giving appreciation to the strides made and rewards received because of the successes achieved by the Global March movement. Invited artists and chosen groups of child laborers showcased any talents and artistic skills they possessed in activities such as dancing, singing and playing musical instruments"[15] .

Recent events[edit]

The next country to encounter the march is Zimbabwe. The march will take place on December 1–31, 2007. It will start at Harare and end in Plumtree. The goal is to combat child labor and to spread education to the children of that country. Media outlets will be used to promote this event through television, newspaper and radio. One of the major organizations that are contributing to this march is the New Hope Foundation.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ CRIN - Child Rights Information Network - Organisations - Global March Against Child Labour
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education
  10. ^
  11. ^ Biggeri, Mario, et al. "Children Conceptualizing their Capabilities: Results of a Survey Conducted during the First Children's World Congress on Child Labour*." Journal of Human Development 7.1 (2006): 59-83. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 Nov. 2009.
  12. ^ [Stokes, Bruce "When Childhood Is Denied." National Journal (2008): 17. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 Nov. 2009.]
  13. ^ ["Global March Against Child Labour." Women's International Network News 23.4 (1997): 75. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 Nov. 2009.]
  14. ^
  15. ^