This month we were honoured to have become Child Labor Free* certified to the manufacturing level for a specific range of products. But what is Child Labor Free all about and what does it mean to the consumer?
The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
Shockingly, an International Labour Organization (ILO) prepared report estimates that over 150 million children aged between 5 and 17 between 2012 and 2016, were subject to child labour. More than half were involved in hazardous and harmful circumstances that are considered detrimental to their health and development. These children will grow up without an education and into a life of poverty.
“Child labour remains endemic and its elimination requires both economic and social reform as well as the active cooperation of all those active cooperation of governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, enterprises, international organizations, and civil society at large”. (Source)
The Child Labor Free organisation began in New Zealand with founders Michelle Pratt and Nikki Prendergast - education experts with a lifetime of experience in early childhood, health and software development. Their journey was born from a startling fact at the heart of their business operation:
”The toys we sourced for our early childhood centres could in fact have been made by children.”
With the lifelong commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for children in their care, Michelle & Nikki set about creating a global certification system that assesses a brand's supply chain and certifies products and manufacturers as child labour free. This certification process independently inspects and analyses companies and their supply chains for the use of child labour across all product categories. Child Labor Free is a social enterprise that provides commercial value to companies through a certification mark, using the license fees of this program to prevent and remediate children in labour.
Child Labor Free has three stages of accreditation:
- “Manufacture,” means the activity, process and method of assembling, processing and adding value to Components and any other raw materials from any Source, which are not themselves Components, to create Certifiable Good(s).
- “Component,” means an item part or component of a Certifiable Good, and the process of creating that item part or component from materials obtained at Source, for use in the Manufacturing of a Certifiable Good. For avoidance of doubt, the packaging of a Certifiable Good will be deemed a Component of that Certifiable Good.
- “Source,” means the activity, process and method of growing, gathering, collecting and/or collating raw materials, and the raw materials themselves, used as an input for Manufacturing of a Component and/or a Certifiable Good.
Child Labor Free is a simple concept to a complex problem. Empower consumers to recognise brands that do not use child labour, and support brands to ensure child labour does not exist in their supply chains.
The global supply chains that produce and deliver products internationally are complex. Many companies don’t know that children are involved in the production of their goods, hidden in complex supply chains, which are never openly discussed at a consumer level.
These certification marks clearly demonstrates to consumers that the certified brand is committed to working through their supply chain to ensure there is no child labor being used in the production of their products.
There is no debate that working to end child labour is the ethical thing to do. The question quickly turns to, “Can we do it”? Ethically sourced products are likely to cost a bit more. Will consumers pay for the additional costs incurred by “doing the right thing”?
In fact, the Child Fund Survey of American Opinions on Child Labor (2013) states…
75% of consumers would be willing to change their shopping habits in response to the use of child labor. While 88% of global consumers want companies to tell them what they are doing to operate responsibly and support important issues.
While brands like ours make this journey, ultimately, it’s the consumer who decides whether they purchase ethically. With recent articles highlighting human rights issues especially in the fast fashion industry, consumers are now more aware of where their products are being made.
Consumers care and are looking for brands and organisations that do too. Why not join the positive Child Labor Free movement today and show your customers you care too?
*The organisation behind Child Labor Free has ceased offering accreditation renewal, effective December 2020.