This Monday, 12 June, is World Day Against Child Labour.
World Day Against Child Labour is a chance for Australians to think about how their everyday actions can help build a fairer world, says the Chief Executive Officer of Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand.
“Everyone has the power to ask questions of their favourite brands – whether that’s a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate or a cotton t-shirt,” says Molly Harriss Olson.
According to the United Nations, around 168 million children are caught up in child labour. More than half are exposed to the worst forms of exploitation, such as slavery, involvement in armed conflict, drug trafficking and prostitution, and are denied the chance to be children.
But it is the agriculture sector where most children work illegally, with an estimated 98 million child labourers worldwide.
“The global supply chains for many products that we Australians use every day – chocolate, coffee and cotton, electronics and footwear among them – are frequently opaque,” Ms Harriss Olson explains.
“This makes it hard for consumers to understand the extent of their entanglement with child exploitation. Many of us may be supporting child labour without realising it.”
The Australian Government is currently conducting an inquiry into whether it should establish a Modern Slavery Act, and Ms Harriss Olson says this presents “an unmissable opportunity” to drive transparency through our supply chains.
“Changing the law will demand more of our largest companies, transform supply chains, actively eliminate child exploitation and promote decent work.
“But each of us can also play an important role in eradicating child labour.
“Each time we take bite of Fairtrade chocolate, purchase a cup of Fairtrade coffee or take a step in Fairtrade footwear, we are taking a stand against child labour,” Ms Harriss Olson concludes.