For the past decade, Green America has been campaigning against chocolate companies to give voice to child laborers working in cocoa fields in West Africa. Chocolate companies earn billions of dollars in revenues from selling treats to consumers, and those resources should be leveraged to help farmers and children in West Africa. However, despite almost 20 years of industry and government initiatives, the number of child laborers working in cocoa fields in West Africa has increased. The University of Tulane estimated that in 2015, there were over 2 million child laborers in cocoa fields.
In 2015, the United Nations launched their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity of all.” Goal 8 is about ensuring that everyone gets a chance for decent work and economic growth, with target 8.7 specifically setting goals to eliminate and prohibit child labor in all forms by 2025.
As part of global efforts to combat child labor, the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared June 12 as World Day Against Child Labor. World Day Against Child Labor is a day to raise awareness on the plight of child laborers throughout the world, as well as highlight the work that governments, civil society, and workers organizations are doing to combat this pressing problem.
The ILO estimates that 152 million children are victims of child labor. Child labor is concentrated primarily in agriculture, with an estimated 71% of child laborers involved in the industry worldwide. Other industries with child labor include manufacturing and mining/quarrying. Child labor impedes on children’s ability to receive an education and a healthy childhood, which then can impact their development as well as the social and economic development of their communities.
It’s clear that the current approaches governments and companies are taking are not enough to eradicate child labor; they’re also not enough to eliminate farmer poverty, one of the root cause of child labor in cocoa.
So on World Day Against Child Labor (and every day!), we hope you’ll join Green America in standing up against child labor. You can start by taking action with us and telling Godiva to step up their commitments to combatting child labor in their supply chain, improve farmer livelihood, and publicly share their plans and progress – sign our petition here.
What else can you do to address child labor, both in cocoa and in the other sectors that it’s prevalent? The Department of Labor has some tips that will sound familiar to Green Americans!
- Ask questions: Ask companies and governments about what they’re doing to combat child labor. Challenge yourself and see if you can find out what products you purchase may have come from child labor.
- Take action: Stay updated on the issues, share the word amongst your communities and the companies you buy from and invest in, support organizations that are working to combat child labor
- Demand change: Hold companies accountable to their commitments; use your investments to promote responsible supply chain practices; and raise your voices against child labor.
And, remember to vote with your dollars every time you purchase chocolates for yourself and your loved ones. You can use Green America’s handy Chocolate Scorecard to help guide your purchasing.