11 Jun 2021
On the Frontline - Meet Fairtrade’s Youth Monitors Fighting Child Labour
Producer organizations are increasingly putting into place monitoring and remediation systems for child labour. These programmes are intended to raise awareness of and monitor for signs of child labour, and intervene when it is found. This means both removing children from dangerous work as well as supporting them to enter into schooling or other appropriate situations. In 2012, Fairtrade developed its signature Youth-Inclusive Community-Based Monitoring and Remediation System on Child Labour (YICBMR), which is being piloted in 14 countries across the globe. It emphasizes the community focus, not just on farms but in the entire community, as well as the important role of young people themselves in tackling the issue of child labour.
For this initiative to work, it is essential to engage young people (from 16 to 25 years old) who are keen on supporting small producers. They participate via organizing training sessions, designing how to apply different measures, collecting data, analyzing the situation on the ground and reporting on it. They are crucial.
As the world marks the 2021 International Day for the Elimination of Child Labour, Fairtrade reached out to six of its youth monitors spanning from Belize to the Philippines to hear about their work as decision makers in mitigating risks to child labour.
JO-AN FLORES MIRALLES – PHILIPPINES
My name is Jo-an Flores Miralles. I am 24 years old and I am a YICBMR Youth Monitor and also a member of Dama Farm Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (DAFWARBA).
My life partner is Jackey Cahilig. He is also the son of DAFWARBA members and his job is maintenance in water irrigation for sugarcane farms and for drinking water. By the grace of God, we have been blessed with a very handsome child. His name is Lucas Dale Cahilig. He is two months old. Being a mother has not been an obstacle for me in my job. In fact, I am working hard for my son to give him a good future. And right now I am very happy for my family. They gave me strength all day before going to work and until I go home.
As a Youth Monitor here in our community I have seen that there has been much change for the better. Young people now know what gender-based violence is. Adults also know about their rights as do women. The YICBMR project has helped people in our community a lot, providing orientation and awareness about gender-based violence.
KAREN CABATUAN – PHILIPPINES
I have been working for a year and four months in our Dama Farm Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association community as YICBMR Youth Monitor. Being involved in a project that addresses gender-based violence, including child and forced labour, is a challenging yet fulfilling job. One of the major challenges that we faced is the COVID-19 pandemic. It didn't stop us from continuing our work yet we were even motivated to continue our plans and activities under the YICBMR Project. We were able to secure the installation of 10 streetlights within Dama to ensure that community members are safe and secure at night. Advocacy signage and warning signs were placed in locations that are dangerous for community members. Aside from prevention plan activities, we continue to monitor day-to-day recording of gender-based violence cases.
Working as a Youth Monitor has helped me to overcome my fear of speaking in public and help me build my confidence as a woman and as young person. Right now, I am also working as a secretary at DAFWARBA Rice Mill which gives me another opportunity to do better.
ANTHONY BADU– GHANA
The level of exploitation of children in cocoa growing areas has been a stumbling block to their education and the result has been the cyclical nature of poverty in these communities even though cocoa proceeds contribute immensely to Ghana’s economy. I have always yearned to change this situation.
So when I saw the Youth Monitor placement advert, I knew the opportunity had presented itself for me to make the much-anticipated change to ensure the safety and holistic development of children in my community. I have learnt that a child can open up to you and discuss anything that troubles him or her if he/she feels safe with you.
The YICBMR approach also taught me a lesson as to how community participation and active involvement in all the stages of a project intervention eliminates the defensive position and enhances ownership and cooperation.
EMMANUEL HALL– BELIZE
When I was 9 years old, I had to go chop grass in fields in order to get income to provide for my family and afford my studies.
I became involved with YICBMR in order to assist in decreasing child labour in our sugarcane communities.
Among the key lessons I have learned through YICBMR is the different risks youths and children are exposed to in sugarcane communities.
SEDION WAFAGA– CÔTE D’IVOIRE
I became involved with YICBMR out of love for children and to protect them against all forms of violence and dangerous work.
Through my work with YICBMR, I have understood that the phenomenon of child labour is a sad reality and that children live in difficult conditions in rural areas. And I have been able to master techniques for monitoring and reporting child protection issues.
DIABATE GBATCHIN – CÔTE D’IVOIRE
I am working with YICBMR to contribute to the development of children and protect them against all forms of violence and dangerous work.
In my time working as a Youth Monitor, I have found that children live in difficult conditions in rural areas and that child labour is a reality in and out of cocoa farms.