From 10 to 17 October, delegates from all over the world gathered in Segou, Mali, for the kick-off meeting of the Stop Child Labour coalition’s new programme: “Out of work and into school – joint efforts towards child labour free zones”.
With this new programme, the coalition aims to strengthen and expand its child labour free zones (CLFZ) worldwide with the active participation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and companies. Participating countries and sectors are India (natural stone, textile/garment and leather/shoes), Zimbabwe (tea), Uganda (coffee), Mali (smallholder agriculture and gold), Nicaragua (gold) and Turkey (hazelnuts). The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a three-year period (2014 – 2017).
Joint efforts towards the elimination of child labour
The kick-off meeting not only brought together the organisations, initiatives and companies involved in this new project, but also those already working with the Stop Child Labour coalition within the Omar’s Dream project funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. All of them share the belief that it is possible to eliminate child labour with an area-based approach towards the creation of child labour free zones.
Child labour free zones
Child labour free zones are geographical areas where all children are systematically taken out of labour and (re)integrated into formal, full-time schools. The area-based approach involves all stakeholders within the community, including teachers, parents, children, unions, community groups, local authorities and employers. The power to effect this change comes from within the communities who set the norm that ‘no child should work; every child must be in school’.
Inspiring learning experience for all
During the kick-off meeting, the delegates visited CLFZ project sites to witness and discuss the concept and modalities of CLFZ, and joined sessions to analyse, define and strengthen joint efforts towards creating child labour free zones. This will ensure that all stakeholders will continue or start to work from the same understanding of the area-based approach to child labour free zones. Thanks to local partner Enda Mali, the contributions of all participants and the hospitality of the CLFZ community members, this week was a great and inspiring learning experience for all.