Hello, my name is Steven Noguera and I’m here to address an issue concerning child labor in society. First, let’s establish the problem. Today, it is found that the number of children that work between the ages of 5 and 14 exceeds more than 250 million. I’m here to show you how it benefits the country and how it’s detrimental. My presentation will inform you all of what is being done in regards to child labor to see if the positive effects outweigh the negative effects of child labor in a country. This topic first interested my group and I because we recently came upon an article that spoke about how products we use in our daily life, like for example a pair of shoes is created. I assessed this problem through the lens of culture. It explained the process and use of child labor in many countries due to culture and traditional beliefs. I have researched how countries have reacted to the effects of child labor and how their cultures induce them to either neglect child labor, or encourage it in the community.
In order to understand what this involves, you need to know what child labor means. According to the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) under the International Labor Organization (ILO), “‘child labor’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” It’s the employment of under-age minors for the production of services. Child labor hinders the education and development of kids. It prevents them of many privileges available for others. The exploitation of young kids is more commonly found to take place in less developed countries worldwide. There can be several types of child labor including; trafficking, soldiering, mining, agricultural, manufacturing, and others. There may be several reasons for the introduction of child labor in a country but the main causes may be high income inequality, corruption, or just poor economic growth which then leads to poverty.
What’s the local to global connection? In the United States, it is believed that acquiring an education is more important than working because it leads to a brighter future with more opportunities. Many years ago, the U.S. established a constitutional amendment which enabled citizens the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This has shaped the culture in the United States. It shows that everyone deserves rights and fair treatment. This is a major factor as to why child labor is off limits in the United States.
Eritrea- Eritrea is the worst country when it comes to child labor. There are a plethora of problems that the children of Eritrea face today. They live in a society where there are still social divisions and social classes. Both women and children are given duties based on gender norms, which essentially dictate if their actions are appropriate or acceptable depending on their sex. Age is also a very crucial factor in the process. Children are forced into child labor, and many take advantage of them. In the article, “Child Labor Is Declining Worldwide, But It’s Thriving in These Six Countries”, Reid Standish explains the problem in Eritrea. He says, “Eighty five million: That’s how many children are involved the worst forms of child labor, including prostitution, the handling of hazardous materials, and heavy labor.” This is the greatest amount of children involved in child labor within a country. Like Eritrea, Myanmar has a significant amount of child labor, only that their main use of labor is for soldiering. They have the greatest number of children in a national army in the world and the number of 300,000 is projected to grow in the coming years. The cultural scheme in society is massively overlooked because their beliefs have not changed from those of older times, to the modern world. Their culture continues to follow the same principles they once believed in. They presume that there is still only one important piece in society, which is man, and everything else, whether it be women or children, is completely superfluous.
Vietnam- Vietnam is committed to protecting children’s rights and interests and facilitating children’s exercise of those rights, first and foremost through the provisions of the Constitution. Vietnam is, however, the first Asian state and second in the world to ratify the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990. Children are highly valued in Vietnam. The first national data show that 1.75 million Vietnamese children are child workers. The rate of child labor in Vietnam is lower than the world’s average and very close to the regional figure. In Vietnamese culture, it is thought to be the children, that will provide for the future of the country. The most popular form of child labor is the picking of rice, the creation of rubber, and the fishing industry. Although there is child labor present, more rights have been given towards children that have helped progress Vietnam as a country in the race towards the reduction of child labor. It has had a great impact on how they deal with it today.
Colombia- In Colombia, almost 10% of the minor population is working illegally. Although Colombia has made a huge step, by reducing the sum by a mere 300,000 children involved in child labor, they continue to struggle in countryside towns. The majority of the jobs for children include the production of coffee, emeralds, and gold. “The principal reason these children are working, says the ENS, is that they are providing money to parents employed in informal and precarious jobs.” Many children can also be recruited by drug gangs or other illegal groups in the country. Child labor has been around for years in Colombia, especially because the country is poor and lacks resources for families to thrive. Based on cultural beliefs, the children of the country should be able to help the family, so that’s what essentially influences child labor. So what now? The map on the left, shows the countries’ child labor index of 2014 which is the latest research done. It was created by a British company, Maplecroft, which analyzes important political, economic, social, and environmental issues that may affect investors around the world. In the green, are the countries with the least amount of child labor. The countries in yellow have a medium risk for child labor and red means it’s a major problem in society. This image reveals that the use of child labor is most commonly seen in LDCs, or less developed countries. It’s clear that child labor has been declining by the millions every year. As shown in the line graph to the right, demonstrated on ilo.org there’s been a sharp turn in the amount of children involved in child labor and hazardous work trends.
What’s the solution to this massive problem? In terms of my lens, I believe that cultures need to change. Are the traditional beliefs posed by individuals correct? No. Many countries are preventing their own children from various life opportunities and rights. Although many countries around the world have begun the fight towards it, child labor is still very commonly encouraged. Cultural change would bring the citizens to believe in different ideals, striking for change in society.
In general, I believe that in order to solve or reduce child labor worldwide, much is to be done. For example, the introduction of a new set of laws that strictly prevents child labor could be crucial. Many countries don’t punish employers harshly enough for having under age workers under their wing.
While evaluating this issue from a cultural standpoint, it appears that although child labor has many positive effects in a country it may have a plethora of problems that follow. Even though child labor may bring an economic boost, it is imperative that change is brought upon us. Cultures that encourage child labor, forbid many countries from advancing to the next stage in development. This keeps them in poverty, thus, creating a cycle that will continue to hurt many countries and its people.