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 who are under the minimum age for employment or are engaged in work that must be abolished according to ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182. The majority of these children work in agriculture, but there are also many thousands of girls and boys working in other high-risk sectors such as mining, dumpsites, domestic labour, fireworks manufacturing and fishing. Support to defining and mapping hazardous labour, developing child labour monitoring systems and involving the social partners in these processes are IPEC priorities for the region. In many countries, domestic labour in third party homes is the second largest sector in which children, mostly girls, work. Programmes are being implemented in Central and South America to address this difficult issue. Indigenous girls and boys, who are often the poorest of the poor and suffer from discrimination and lack of access to social services, are also a priority target group for research and action.
The unconditional worst forms of child labour, such as commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking of children for labour, and use of children in armed conflict and in the drug trade pose particular challenges since they involve criminal activities that are hidden and difficult to tackle. Some of these also pose particular risks to girls, who are often more vulnerable due to prevalent cultural and social patriarchal norms in Latin America. IPEC is working to develop intervention models to address these worst forms and ensure that adequate legal frameworks are in place and national capacities are strengthened to enforce them.
IPEC has a strong regional approach to its activities in the region. It promotes child labour eradication in the regional economic integration agenda, as well as in regional declarations and agreements. Through regional groups, such as MERCOSUR, it has fostered the promotion of joint legislation on combating child labour and its worst forms. Mainstreaming of child labour concerns into government policies and programmes in Latin America, especially those concerned with poverty eradication and education such as conditional income transfers, has been and will continue to be a strong focus of IPEC’s work.
Regional Offices – web sites
- IPEC regional web site - Sistema de Información Regional sobre Trabajo Infantil (SIRTI)
- ILO Office for Mexico and Cuba: Mexico
- ILO Office in Argentina: Buenos Aires
- ILO Office in Brazil: Brasilia
- Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean: Lima
- Subregional Office for Central America: San José
- Subregional Office for the South Cone of Latin America: Santiago