World Day against Child Labour: Address the increasing risk of child labor during the COVID-19 pandemic

The International Labour Organization recently commemorated the World Day against Child Labour (WDACL) with the theme “COVID-19: Protect children from child labour, now more than ever.” This year’s WDACL focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in pushing millions of vulnerable children into harmful work that deprives them of their dignity and development.

As of 2011, the Philippines recorded that there are around three million children engaged in hazardous child labor.[1]This occurs mostly in the agriculture sector, where children work in the production of crops, raising livestock, deep-see fishing, among otherunsafe jobs.[2]One of the worst forms of child labor rampant in the Philippines is online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) or using children for sexual videos, photos or live shows that will be shared via the internet in exchange for payment. Research shows that the country is also the top source of child sexual exploitation materials online.[3]

COVID-19 may push children into child labor as itadversely affectsthe economy and livelihood in the country. In a recent rapid assessment report by World Vision Philippines[4], 61% of the adult respondents confirmed that their livelihoods have been fully or severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for daily wage workers.Loss of income is forcing parents and caregivers to consider drastic measures that will impact the well-being of children, as the study shows that 3% of adult respondents said they may send children to work as a means to cope with economic difficulties. This risk could be aggravated by lack of children’s awareness about how to seek help. 19% of children surveyed are not aware or unsure about child protection services.

Worst forms of child labor continue inside homes during the pandemic. OSEC reports has almost tripled since the declaration of community quarantines,[5] which exposes children to the risk of physical and mental health problems, lower education attainments, and broken relationships with family and relatives, who are usually the perpetrators.

World Vision believes that children have the right to a life free from violence. The organization addresses this through implementing initiatives and projects such as the Child Protection Compact Project, which is hoped to build the capacity of community-based child protection systems to prevent and respond to OSEC and child labor trafficking. More recently, the United States Department of Labor awarded World Vision with a grant for the Project Against Child Exploitation (ACE). Project ACE will support capacity building efforts of the governments of the Philippines and at least one other country in Asia to address the worst forms of child labor including OSEC.[6]

On the World Day against Child Labour, the organization calls on governments to increase funding for life-saving interventions as health, education and other social services to prevent the risk of children engaging in hazardous occupations and experiencing other forms of violence during the pandemic. Support the advocacy by signing the World Vision global petition at https://www.wvi.org/ittakesaworld/global-petition.

Together, we can create a safer world for children. It takes a world to end violence against children.


About It Takes A World Campaign

World Vision’s “It Takes a World” campaign is a global movement that aims to protect children from harm and abuse. In the Philippines, the organization focuses on online sexual exploitation (OSEC), a grave issue that threatens the future of the most vulnerable children in the country.


[1] International Labor Organization (26 June 2012). 2011 Survey on Children: Child labour in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.ilo.org/manila/eventsandmeetings/WCMS_184097/lang–en/index.htm

[2] U.S. Department of Labor (2018). 2018 Finding on the Worst Forms of Child Labor: Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ILAB/child_labor_reports/tda2018/Philippines.pdf

[3] International Justice Mission (2020). Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry and Civil Society. Retrieved from https://www.ijm.org/documents/studies/Final-Public-Full-Report-5_20_2020.pdf

[5] Philippine News Agency (25 May 2020). Online child exploitation reports in PH surge amid COVID-19: DOJ. Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1103852

[6]Project ACE is funded by the United States Department of Labor under Cooperative Agreement IL-34007-19-75-K from 2019 –2023