While child labour has declined substantially in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, there are still 5.7 million working girls and boys under the minimum age for employment or engaged in work that must be abolished, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. The majority of these children work in agriculture but there are also many thousands of girls and boys in other high-risk areas such as mining, dumpsites, domestic labour, fireworks manufacturing and fishing. Support to defining and mapping hazardous labour, developing child labour monitoring systems and involving social partners in the response are regional priorities of the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. (http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Regionsandcountries/latin-america-and-caribbean/lang–en/index.htm)
Towards a Solution
Between 2010 and 2012, the ILO Initiative to Combat Child Labour in Brazil, Bolivia (Plurinational State of ), Ecuador and Paraguay proved effective in increasing the operational capacity of the labour inspectorate and in strengthening and scaling up the impact of the initiatives undertaken in each country to combat child labour. Specific results achieved include the setting up of training programmes for labour inspectors in Paraguay and the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
The initiative promoted the horizontal exchange of knowledge between Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Plurinational State of Bolivia through high-level visits and training activities. It was supported by a South-South cooperation project financed by Brazil, in close collaboration with a horizontal cooperation project funded by the United States Department of Labor. The ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour played a key role in facilitating the exchange of knowledge and providing technical assistance. The coordination between these two projects was the first experience of triangular cooperation implemented by ILO. Its positive results have generated new formal agreements of triangular technical cooperation among ILO, Brazil and the United States for the benefit of Haiti and Portuguese-speaking African countries.
Owing to its tripartite structure, the ILO South-South methodology entails the participation of workersand employersorganizations together with government entities. The approach also considers Southern demand for cooperation, capacity and innovation as a guide along with horizontality, mutual benefit and reciprocity. In this specific action, the main methodology used consisted of joint technical visits. They were organized to have three components: (a) a technical presentation of the selected good practices; (b) field visits to know how the practices really worked; and (c) discussion per country on how the practices would be adapted in beneficiary countries. The methodology prioritized exchange visits that involved more than two countries, considering that sharing of experiences at the same time enriches the process.
The projects went through mid-term and final evaluations in which several stakeholders in each of the countries involved were interviewed and had the chance to validate the exchanged practices through South- South cooperation. Moreover, several public policies were developed in beneficiary countries, inspired during exchanged practices, which demonstrated their effectiveness and validity. The following are some examples.
In the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Ministry of Labour developed and put into operation a child labour monitoring and surveillance system based on information technology. In Ecuador, the Ministry of Labour Relations developed a unified child labour registry, based on information technology, for use by all ministries that were part of the Inter-Institutional Committee for the Elimination of Child Labour. The Ministry of Labour Relations developed an online platform for self-training of labour inspectors on child labour. In Paraguay, the Ministry of Justice and Labour established institutional and inter-institutional guidelines on child labour and started a training programme for inspectors on the subject. The exchange visits demonstrated that developing countries could learn much by sharing their experiences and that ILO could play an effective role in facilitating the development of successful South-South cooperation.
The Initiative to Combat Child Labour in Brazil, Bolivia (Plurinational State of ), Ecuador and Paraguay has ensured that the elimination of child labour has been mainstreamed throughout the labour inspectorate system, such as in the Plurinational State of Bolivia with the Monitoring System of Child Labour. It has resulted in concrete resolutions, agreements, campaigns and studies that provide the basis for future activities regarding the elimination of child labour. Finally, initiatives such as Ecuadors National Report on Elimination of Child Labour in Garbage Dumps and a Protocol for Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour in Garbage Dumps serve as inspiration and a tool for other countries to adapt to their national context.
In order to be sustainable, the strategy had to involve national institutions in all phases of the project: formulation, implementation and evaluation. In this sense, ownership was generated and ensured the implementation of national public policies that have remained after the finalization of the international cooperation projects. Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Plurinational State of Bolivia have integrated the initial group of countries that, in the spirit of South-South cooperation, promoted the creation of the regional initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour in the context of the Third Conference on Child Labour held in Brazil in 2013. ILO was designated as the technical secretariat of the initiative. Seed funds, political will and a bottom-up approach based on grass-roots mobilization are crucial for replication. Public policies must also adopt a holistic model for combating child labour through a life-long approach and through integrated strategies that include social protection programmes.
Financing by both the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and the United States Department of Labor allowed resources to be combined for joint implementation and a much more consistent triangular South-South cooperation strategy. The ministries of labour and the employers and workers representatives of Ecuador, Paraguay and the Plurinational State of Bolivia actively participated throughout the process of the joint visits.
Contact: International Labour Organization (ILO), International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), firstname.lastname@example.org
Project name: Initiative to Combat Child Labour in Brazil, Bolivia (Plurinational State of ), Ecuador and Paraguay
Countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Sustainable Development Goal targets: 1.3, 8.7
Supported by: Brazilian Cooperation Agency, United States Department of Labor
Implementing entity: ILO
Project status: Completed
Project period: 2010-2012
URL of the practice: http://www.ilo.org/pardev/partnerships/south-south/WCMS_211770/lang–en/index.htm