Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour

COVID-19 could set back 10 years of progress against child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean

Members and partners of Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour are meeting this week, determined to preserve advancements to reduce child labour

News | 28 October 2020
27 October 2020 (Lima, Peru) -- The Network of Focal Points of the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour launched its 6th Annual Meeting today, to assess the progress in the implementation of its Strategic Plan and define priorities for the COVID-19 response and recovery stages, within the broader context of preparing for 2021, the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

"In 10 months we run the risk of going back 10 years of progress in the elimination of child labour in the region," said Vinícius Pinheiro, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, representing the Technical Secretariat of the Regional Initiative. “The most important challenge that the Regional Initiative has today is to ensure that the pandemic does not impact the future and adulthood of girls, boys and adolescents.”

The Network, made up of representatives of 30 countries in the region, 7 representatives of employers' organizations and 7 representatives of workers' organizations, is being joined during the four-day meeting by international cooperation agencies that are partners of the Regional Initiative, as well as by technical specialists from ILO and UNICEF.

“Even when the present is confusing, the future must be promising and this depends on our children and adolescents not being led into child labour," said Carla Bacigalupo, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Paraguay and representative of Governments and High Level Authority of the Regional Initiative.

"Within all this complexity due to the crisis, in addition to employment, we have the goal of moving forward with the Regional Initiative so that our children and adolescents in the region stop working in any way,” said Fernando Yllanes, member of the Board of Directors of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).

“To combat this crisis, we cannot have children and adolescents working. We value the holding of this 6th Annual Meeting, which is held in unimaginable conditions due to the crisis," said Cícero Pereira, Secretary of Social Policies of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA).

According to an ECLAC-ILO analysis launched in June of this year, the impacts of the pandemic could cause between 109,000 and 326,000 girls, boys and adolescents to be forced to work, adding to the 10.5 million who are currently in child labour situations in the region.

This year’s annual event takes place from Tuesday, October 27 to Friday, October 30 and is virtual due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. While the Regional Initiative has held monthly online meetings since its creation in 2014, this year marks the the first time that the Annual Meeting is held in this format. The virtual event has been made possible thanks to the participation of each member in a previous series of trainings on the effective use of digital tools to transfer the consultation and decision-making processes, usually held in face-to-face Annual Meetings, to a digital platform.

Also participating in the opening ceremony were María Luz Ortega, Director of the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID); Mónica Salmito, Project Analyst at the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC); Nuria Carrero, Head of the Department of Multilateral Cooperation and European Union at the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID); and Margaret Jungk, Deputy Director of the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking and Head of the Research and Policy Unit of the Directorate of International Labor Affairs at the United States Department of Labor.

The Regional Initiative is preparing to start its third phase of implementation, corresponding to the period 2022-2025, so the meeting will also address the updating of its governance mechanisms and the strengthening of ownership and social dialogue. All of this with a view to make the regional platform sustainable in a context that will require, now more than ever, innovative responses that take advantage of knowledge and experience, as well as maximize the commitments of governments and employers' and workers' organizations.

For more details on the 6th Annual Meeting, follow the Regional Initiative on Facebook at Red latinoamericana contra el trabajoinfantil and Twitter @SinTrabinfantil.