Globally, more than 129 million children are agriculture workers, the majority of them unpaid and involved in hazardous and age-inappropriate jobs, according to the International Labor Organization. Their plight and the path to remove them from exploitive work and return them to childhood is the subject the International Conference on Child Labour in Agriculture, July 28th-30th, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Representatives and activists from multiple organizations and more than 50 countries will gather this weekend under the aegis of the Global March Against Child Labor to discuss their knowledge and experience, create national action plans to combat child labor, build and strengthen strategic partnerships, and establish a platform of action and follow-up, resulting in the “Roadmap 2016.” Key partners include representatives from the United Nations, governments, employers, farmer organizations, trade unions and civil society.

“Agriculture is a critical sector for the fight against child labor,” said Tim Ryan, Asia regional director for the Solidarity Center and a member of the governing board of the Global March Against Child Labor. “Poverty is the key driver of child being sent to work instead of to school.  This conference is extremely important because until now globally there hasn’t been this kind of focus on child labor in agriculture.”

Kailash Satyarthi, chairperson of the Global March Against Child Labor, founded its forerunner  organization in India more than 30 years ago. He said around the world progress has been made—including the creation of international instruments under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and new national legislation and active enforcement programs in many countries around the world—and trade unions—especially teachers’ unions—have been a pillar of the organization’s support. However, much remains to be done.

“It has been 30 years,” he said. “I am not patient. I am persistent. Children are losing their childhood. Their dreams are being robbed every minute. How can we be patient?”

The conference, which is supported in part by the Solidarity Center, takes place July 28–30, 2012, at the Doubletree Hotel in Washington D.C.

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the News from The Solidarity Center