A Global March Against Child Labor

World Vision, through the Against Child Exploitation (ACE) Project, join communities worldwide in raising awareness on the plight of children working in the worst forms of labor through the Global March Against Child Labor (GMACL) campaign held annually every January.

The GMACL campaign seeks to eliminate child labor through advocacy campaigns aimed at changing the systems that compel children to become child laborers.

Project ACE is World Vision’s advocacy to support the Philippine government’s effort to address the worst forms of child labor (WFCL), including online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) and violations of acceptable conditions of work (ACW) for children. The Project, launched in 2019, is currently being implemented in Cagayan de Oro City and Quezon City.

A 2021 report from the International Labor Organization and UNICEF, entitled “Child labor: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward,” showed that there are now a staggering 160 million child laborers worldwide, an 8.4 million increase in the last four years.

The report points to a significant rise in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labor, who now account for just over half of the total global figure. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals – has risen by 6.5 million, to 79 million, since 2016, according to a UNICEF press statement.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report released in 2021 estimated the number of children engaged in hazardous work or working long hours to be around 597,000 in 2020. While the number is below PSA’s 2019 report of 640,000, many children remain at risk for the worst forms of child labor, including online sexual exploitation of children, which tripled from 2014-2017, reflecting a 250 percent increase.

The worst forms of child labor include slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, exposing of a child for prostitution or the production of pornography and offering of a child for illegal activities such as production and trafficking of dangerous drugs.

“The numbers are alarming and at the same time heart-breaking,” says Maan Salamat, a mother of four and World Vision’s Project ACE Manager. “Imagine these thousands of children who are supposedly playing with their siblings and friends and studying so they can fulfil their dreams are working dangerously at such a young age.”

World Vision is working alongside several key government agencies, such as the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Philippine National Police (PNP), in the implementation of Project ACE.

“We have also been working with government officials from the barangay to the provincial, regional and national levels, in ensuring that their mechanisms, such as reporting child laborers and referring cases to appropriate services, are in place,” Salamat adds.

To date, Project ACE has trained 319 representatives from the government, the private sector and partner communities, to deepen their awareness and strengthen their mechanisms in responding and addressing worst forms of child labor cases, including online sexual exploitation of children.

Daphne Culanag, ACE Director, says that World Vision’s collaboration with various departments of government agencies also aims to improve the enforcement of the legal framework and policies pertaining to child labor and forced labor and in improving assistance services for victims. “There is a continued and strong interest among government and private agencies in addressing child protection issues. Partnership among various stakeholders is one of the main elements in working to end child labor.”

Culanag is a core marcher of the GMACL since the campaign’s launch in 1998 in Manila. The GMACL has mobilized governments, communities, and the private sector, to work together to end child labor, leading to the unanimous adoption of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (Convention 182) in 1999, and its ratification in the Philippines soon after.

Project ACE funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement IL-34007-19-75K. 100% of the total costs of the project or program are financed with federal funds.


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