Hivos believes all people have the right - and the ability - to shape their lives on the basis of personal choices. But not when the choices of some hold sway over the destiny of others, as in the case of child labourers. Then Hivos feels it is the role of concerned organisations to help create structures that will put these children into school full-time and change the attitudes of those who keep children in work, preventing them from realising their full potential as human beings.
Children do not work because they want to, and parents would ideally much rather see their children attend school. Child labour is socially accepted when people see no alternative but to send their children to work. However, Stop Child Labour believes, and our partners have shown, that it is possible to eliminate child labour if all stakeholders take responsibility and work together. This means governments must abide by internationally accepted agreements, companies mustm employ adults instead of children and – importantly - consumers must not buy articles produced by child labour.
Hivos has seen that change in the global South often goes hand-in-hand with action in the global North. Our Stop Child Labour coalition is therefore designed to bring about the change in the global North that will result in ever higher numbers of child labourers exchanging their tools for schoolbooks. The coalition engages in policy advocacy with governments in the Netherlands and at EU and international level, urges companies to take children out of their production chains and mobilises citizens in the global North to demand the same rights for children in the global South that their own children enjoy. The age-old position that "child labour is a necessary evil" must be replaced by "child labour, in whatever form, is unacceptable".
As our partner MV Foundation India eloquently puts it:
“We have found that it is possible to bring children out of work in urban slums, ghettos, sweat shops, on garbage dumps, children engaged as domestic child labour and so on, back to the school system. Likewise, we have demonstrated that parents of children in rural areas engaged in all forms of work in all kinds of agricultural operations, like cattle herding and working in quarries and mines, were willing to send their children to schools once they gained confidence in the facilitating agency. This was true even of communities living in remote villages in the forests and coming from diverse ethnic and tribal cultures.’’