Today, we join with others in the international community to highlight the continued and urgent need to combat exploitative child labor around the world, with a special emphasis on addressing the particular challenges faced by girls. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has noted, “the status of women and girls is a key indicator of whether or not progress is possible in a society.” However, throughout the world, girls continue to be disadvantaged in many ways, including through discrimination, limited access to schooling, and traditional roles that still relegate certain forms of work to girls.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that approximately 100 million girls throughout the world are child laborers, often working in hazardous and exploitative conditions. The U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices calls attention to global trends in child labor each year. We continue to see girls exploited as domestic workers, lured into commercial sexual exploitation, and working in hazardous conditions in agriculture and other sectors.
On this, the tenth anniversary of the ILO’s groundbreaking Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, we must redouble our efforts to eliminate child labor and other obstacles hampering girls’ achievements. Through our promotion of labor diplomacy, as well as our forging of key partnerships at home and abroad, the Department of State will continue to engage widely to raise awareness of the marginalization of girls, and to advocate for girls’ equal access to education and programs for legitimate vocational and professional training, and promote meaningful alternatives to child labor.