Childhood: a time for happiness and love, not hard labour
Call to mind your children, grandchildren, young neighbours, students and children in your extended families, neighbourhood and friendship networks.
Now, ponder one hope that you have for them! Was it: safety, innocence, a childhood, a vibrant education, good friends, knowledge that they are loved unconditionally…?
2021 is the United Nations designated Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. It is a sad reflection on us all that we need to dedicate a whole year to this social scourge. There are currently an estimated 152 million children involved globally in child labour in the clothing and manufacture, sex tourism, agricultural and mining industries, to name a few. Target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals calls us to work together to end these unacceptable violations of human rights. Members of our Mary Ward network are already supporting and advocating for children working in brickfields, in hidden domestic labour situations and other agricultural contexts. In line with our commitment to the United Nations, the elimination of human trafficking and the care of women and children, the Mary Ward global network is marking the 12th of each month with a focus on a different ‘face’ of child labour. We have pledged to the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation that, by the end of 2021, our global network of over 200,000 students and other members of our community will be aware of the existence of child labour in the countries in which friends of Mary Ward reside and will be invited to consider their purchasing choices in light of this shared information.
Beginning on June 12, the United Nations World Day Against Child Labour, our UN office will distribute an awareness raising toolkit based on a child labour issue relevant to one of our provinces or regions. This month our province has produced a toolkit with input from Sisters and co-workers in Vietnam, Timor Leste, the Philippines, and Australia. The toolkit comprises a poster, a prayer and a report with information related to child labour in each of the countries across which our province stretches.