The official launch of the Legislative Reform Committee (LRC) of the WinRock International CLEAR ll Project has been launched in Monrovia.
Speaking during the launch, the Internal Project Director for the CLEAR II Project, Rocio Cordova, said while significant progress was made globally in the fight against all forms of child labor between 2000 and 2012; however, the goal to eliminate it by 2016 was not achieved.
According to Cordova, in 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that aim to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth as well as employment and decent work for all. She said it also included immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers; and by 2025, end child labor in all its forms.
Director Cordova said that child labor reduction is everyone’s business, and requires government, civil society, and the private sector coming together to find sustainable/long-term solutions to reducing child labor.
She acknowledged the level of work done by WinRock and its partners in support of child labor reduction by developing the capacity to address it and by providing children, parents, communities, and governments with the tools to pursue alternatives to child labor.
Cordova also extended thanks to donors supporting the project, especially the United State Department of Labor that supports child labor reduction interventions worldwide, and host country governments, such the Liberian Ministry of Labor for its commitment and leadership.
She said they are in Liberia this time around to work together with CLEAR II partners, Lawyers Without Borders on this very important child labor regulation workshop that aims to strengthen Liberia’s legal framework to fighting child labor in line with the National Action Plans (NAP).
The Internal Project Director said it was equally important to launch the formation of the LRC (legal reform committee), which will be key in moving forward these initiatives.
Also speaking at the occasion, Sara D. Greengrass, Political Officer at the US Embassy, noted that among the many pressing issues that Liberia faces are rebuilding destroyed infrastructure, bolstering the security and justice sector, creating jobs and strengthening the economy, as well as addressing the problem of child labor.
She said in Liberia, child labor continues to be a problem in every economic sector, particularly in the informal labor market. “You can look in the street and see children molding bricks, street hawking, crushing rock, or a multitude of other activities. Moreover, it is particularly troubling that those forcing children into abusive work situations are often close relatives or family members,” she said.
According to Greengrass, parents in Liberia want the best for their children, and others take advantage of this promising an education for a child, but instead end up forcing him or her to clean the house, hawk goods in the street, or worse. “And other parents don’t know that the work their child is doing can affect their child’s health, ability to receive education, and limit that child’s future. But there are alternatives that allow families to protect their children while also improving their own lives,” she said.
“We all know the famous proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ That proverb sums up the collective approach we must take if we are to end, once and for all, the kinds of harmful working conditions children are placed in. That is where we all come in, by educating parents, by working together to make sure the laws are enforceable and have strong, meaningful penalties, by coming together as a village to bring an end to harmful child labor practices.”
Greengrass noted that though the Children’s Law and the New Labor Law lay the legal foundations to protect children, a lack of statistical data on the number of children who are victims of child labor, and the types of labor they are being used in remain major challenges, adding: “As does the lack of the regulatory framework to implement and enforce the law, which is why the work you are doing is so important, and why the United States is proud to support the Country Level Engagement and Assistance to Reduce Child Labor (CLEAR ll) project in Liberia, and the work of the Legislative Reform Committee being launched today.”
Launching the program, Deputy Labor Minister for Administration Augustine W. Williams said the Government of Liberia remains engaged with all stakeholders in the formal and informal sectors of the economy to address “the challenges posed by this menace.” He said significant progress has been made in the formal sector of the economy to address the issue of child labor. Therefore, every effort and step along the way aimed at addressing this scourge is welcomed and must be commended, he added.
Williams said although the Government of Liberia has acknowledged some limitations of child labor instruments it is still committed to enshrining child protection issues in its national labor legislation and policies in light of significant gaps in the legal framework and implementation of policies relevant to the protection of children from the worst forms of child labor.
The workshop, which is being held at a resort in Monrovia, is organized by the WinRock CLEAR ll Project in collaboration with the National Commission on Child Labor of the Ministry of Labor. It will run from December 5 to 7.
CLEAR ll is the Country Level Engagement Assistance to Reduce Child Labor. Working collaboratively with host governments, CLEAR ll provides technical assistance to bring about meaningful reductions in child labor. The project is funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).