Members and partners of the Regional Initiative meet, determined to preserve the progress made in reducing child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Regional Initiative opens its 6th Annual Meeting with the firm commitment to continue advancing towards the achievement of target 8.7
The Network of Focal Points of the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean free of Child Labour today inaugurated its 6th Annual Meeting, where it will assess the progress in the implementation of its Strategic Plan and will define priorities for the response to COVID-19, as well as for the recovery stage, all within the broader context of preparations for 2021, the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
Given the international restrictions on travel in many countries due to the pandemic, this year the annual meeting is online, and takes place over the next four days- from Tuesday 27th October to Friday 30th October. Although since its creation in 2014 the Regional Initiative has met online monthly, it is the first time that the Annual “Face to Face” Meeting is being convened in this modality, which has been possible thanks to the willingness and coordinated work of each Focal Points and the Technical Secretariat. Preparations included previous training sessions for the effective use of digital tools that help to transfer to the virtual realm all the consultation and decision-making processes that are typically carried out in the face-to-face format.
The Network, made up of representatives of 30 countries in the region, 7 representatives of employers' organizations and 7 representatives of workers' organizations, will be accompanied during these four days by international cooperation agencies that are partners of the Regional Initiative, as well as by technical specialists from ILO and UNICEF.
The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Paraguay, Carla Bacigalupo chaired the opening ceremony, as representative of the Governments and High Level Authority of the Regional Initiative. On behalf of the Employers' group, Fernando Yllanes participated as member of the Board of Directors of the IOE, and the Secretary for Social Policies of the TUCA, Cícero Pereira da Silva, led the representation of the Workers’ group.
"Even when the present is confusing, the future must be promising and this depends on our children and adolescents not being led into child labour."
Carla Bacigalupo, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Paraguay
"Within all this complexity due to the crisis, in addition to employment, we have the goal of moving forward with the Regional Initiative so that our children and adolescents in the region stop working in any way."
Fernando Yllanes, member of the Board of Directors of the IOE
"To combat this crisis, we cannot have children and adolescents working. We value the holding of this 6th Annual Meeting, which is held in unimaginable conditions due to the crisis."
Cícero Pereira, Secretary of Social Policies of the TUCA
Likewise, the ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vinicius Pinheiro, participated in the meeting as head of the Technical Secretariat of the Regional Initiative. He pointed out that in 10 months we run the risk of reversing 10 years of progress in the elimination of child labour in the region. "The most important challenge that the Regional Initiative has today is to ensure that the pandemic does not impact the future and the adulthood of girls, boys and adolescents."
For her part, the Director of the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation - AACID, María Luz Ortega, stated that the Andalusian Cooperation has a clear commitment to social policies that promote that children can develop freely. "We are going to join in the commemoration of the Year 2021 because the future must be without child labour."
During her speech, Mônica Salmito, Project Analyst at the Brazilian Cooperation Agency - ABC, added that the fact that 2021 has been declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour reinforces, even more, the commitment of the entire Network to eliminate child labour in the region. "From the ABC, we want to find innovative solutions and implement the necessary measures to continue moving forward."
The Head of the Department of Multilateral Cooperation and the European Union of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation - AECID, Nuria Carrero, said that Latin America and the Caribbean is a benchmark worldwide for its great advances in the prevention and elimination of child labour during the last years. However, she warned about the risk that thousands of boys, girls and adolescents are inserted into child labour as a result of the pandemic.
For her part, Margaret Jungk, Deputy Director of the Office of Child Labour, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking and Head of the Investigation and Policy Unit of the Directorate of International Labour Affairs of the United States Department of Labour, recognized the key role of the Regional Initiative in addressing child labour. “The United States Department of Labour supports the Initiative primarily in the area of research. We hope to continue sharing valuable information to help governments make decisions."
The Regional Initiative is preparing to enter its third phase of implementation, corresponding to the period 2022-2025, so this meeting will also address the updating of its governance mechanisms and the strengthening of ownership and social dialogue. All of this with a view to making the regional platform sustainable in a context that will require, now more than ever, innovative responses that take advantage of knowledge, experience and maximize the commitment of governments and employers' and workers' organizations.