“The topic of child labor is a multi-dimensional one that requires a comprehensive approach for its prevention and elimination,” Peña began at a panel discussing best practices in combating child labor at Partners' recent convention.
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Not too long ago, Alex, 7, and Josseline, 6, spent their afternoons working in a field, grazing cows and collecting grass to feed pigs and guinea pigs. One of their most common tasks, as it is for other children in Chordeleg, Azuay, Ecuador, was recollecting toquilla straw. The material is used to create Panamanian hats which are very popular among local workers and tourists.
In an effort to support Paraguay’s government, private sector, and civil society’s commitment to to combat child labor and strengthen labor law enforcement, the United States government presented a new project called Paraguay Okakuaa at the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, Dr. Leslie A. Bassett’s residence. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Español a continuación)
“I have been making salsa since I was 6 years old, when my task for dinnertime was to peel roasted chilies,” Carmen Pacheco-Borden of Boulder, Colo said. Pacheco-Borden’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 12 years old, and she went on to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering. After teaching university classes and having three children, Pacheco-Borden decided it was time for a new path in life.
“I am not playing with her - she is too small, she can’t run, and doesn’t talk to me!” one EducaFuturo participant shouted. “He only talks to his friends and just because I look different he doesn’t talk to me,” responded another.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 13 million children are involved in child labor. Many of them come from poor, low-educated families, aren’t enrolled in school and endure dangerous working conditions. Often, they work for their families, whose economic survival depends on the additional income their children bring in.
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When Mateo and Kevin first started attending Espacios Para Crecer (EpC), an after-school program led by Partners of the Americas’ Proyecto EducaFuturo, life changed for their entire family.
Two brothers in a family of 6, Mateo and Kevin grew up in La Dolorosa, Ecuador, a poor, low-educated neighborhood where few opportunities exist for families to find work. Faced with severe economic pressure, families who do manage to secure work often rely on their children to work as well, in order to earn enough for the family to live on.
Child labor in Ecuador and Panama is prominent in the most vulnerable and socially excluded sectors: indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. These two populations account for a high incidence of poverty, social exclusion, employment and lack of education, which also explains why they are most at risk of child labor. The numbers are stark.
On Friday July 5, 2013, Partners launched our EducaFuturo program in Panama. The launch was a big success, and we are excited to begin working on the ground.
Steve Vetter, Partners’ President & CEO, traveled to Panama to participate in the inaugural launch of the EducaFuturo program. In his keynote remarks, he addressed the positive social and economic impact the program plans to have in both Ecuador and Panama by eliminating child labor in each country.