Child labour portal

A young boy holds a giant wrench
© UNICEF/UN020100/Khuzaie

The context – ending child labour by 2025

In 2015, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community adopted the ambitious goal of ending child labour by 2025.  But millions of children around the world are still trapped in child labour, depriving them of their childhood, their health and education, and condemning them to a life of poverty and want. Recent global estimates indicate that a total of 168 million children aged 5 to 17 are engaged in child labour (down by some 30% from 246 million in 2000).  These figures indicate a steady decline in child labour, but progress is far too slow: at current rates, more than 100 million children will still be trapped in child labour by 2020!

Yet, the declining trend indicates effective responses to child labour are gaining traction.Thanks to concrete national and global development goals, a climate has been created in which investments in education, social protection and human development receive high priority in national policy, providing fertile ground for accelerating progress to eliminate child labour.

Businesses are part of the solution

“The business sector has a much bigger role to play in solving the world’s social and development issues. We must encourage 'Business with Compassionate Intelligence' to create a world of shared responsibilities and equal opportunities”,

Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014

Business can make a huge difference when it comes to ending child labour. Companies and children interact on a daily basis. In some cases, children can be workers in factories and fields. In other cases, the interactions are more indirect – for example, children might be family members of employees, or community members in neighbourhoods where businesses operate. Because of these constant interactions, the private sector has enormous power to help protect children from harm and to improve their lives.

UNICEF works with businesses to help end child labour, respect and support children’s rights, and contribute to sustainable national development. UNICEF is offering companies the opportunity to:

  • Invest in communities: having a measurable positive impact on the lives of working children and their communities.
  • Use leverage and influence policy change: be at the forefront of driving policy change against child labour.
  • Promote and develop child-friendly business practices: co-develop practical and cutting-edge approaches and tools for child-friendly businesses to ensure zero tolerance for child labour and decent working conditions for young workers.