What is Child Labor Free?
To find out about this we sat down with Darren Eckford, EMEA General Manager of the Child Labor Free Foundation.
Child Labor Free is a simple concept to a complex problem. Empower consumers to recognise brands that do not use child labor, and support brands to ensure child labor does not exist in their supply chains.
We are a social enterprise that provides commercial value to companies through a consumer mark. With 75% of consumers willing to change their shopping habits in response to the use of child labor, our certification mark allows buyers to identify a brand’s commitment to ethical sourcing and make their purchasing choices accordingly.
Child Labor Free has developed a global certification system to independently inspect and analyse companies and their supply chain for the use of child labor across all product categories. We use license fees paid by the brand to prevent and remediate children in labor through the Child Labor Free Foundation.
Why should I care?
Every child has the right to a childhood. With 168 million children worldwide being denied that right it’s time to make some changes. The power to change lies with us, the consumers.
Governments are increasingly working to support policy and legislation changes to compel companies to focus on the people behind their business with new policies such as the Modern Slavery Act. For true and sustained social change, the choices you make count. Business must ultimately deliver what their consumer wants. If you want a world free of child labor, the best way to do that is to support businesses that do to.
What solutions are you offering?
How does it work? The process of certification is a journey, and occurs in three progressive stages – manufacturing level, component and source. Each level has been designed to help businesses tackle the complex task of mapping and understanding supply chains in manageable steps, as well as providing simple ways to explain this process to the consumer.
Fashion designers all over the world talk about their reasons for joining the foundation.
What is in sight for the future of child labor?
Even though the statistics on children in labor are abhorrent, there is hope. Global numbers of children in child labor has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work (down from 171 million in 2000). Child labor among girls fell by 40% since 2000, compared to 25% for boys. Just in January this year (2017) nearly 200 children were rescued from a South India brick kiln.
With the increasing awareness and growing public disapproval against the companies exploiting children, we will continue to make progress. Child labor is a highly complex issue. There isn’t a finite solution or a quick fix, there’s no silver bullet – it’s about creating an ongoing platform for change. Child Labor Free is a long-term initiative.
We believe in a world where children are free to be children. To achieve this vision, we’re working with brands, consumers, factories and communities on the issue of child labor (and wider modern slavery and labor issues) in supply chains.
Darren, what keeps you motivated to keep the work you are doing for the child labour free world?
It doesn’t take a whole lot to stay energized for this role. Every morning when my two little girls (4 years old and 2 years old) charge in to our room with excitement on their face for what the day may bring the reality of what faces those children around the world with no hope of that same excitement dawns. It is sure motivation to get to work and do what we can. The reality is that if we were entirely focused on finding child labor I think it could become a difficult and depressing task over time but the fact that we get to see the stories of remediation and success through the foundation as well gives a good balance between reality and hope for the end of child exploitation globally.
Thank you Darren and the Child Labor Free Foundation for the important work that you do and our discussion.