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2009 In Focus Archive: January 16, 2009

U.S. Department of Laborís First Annual Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor Presented

On January 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Labor's first annual Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor was presented to Maria Cecilia Flores-Oebanda by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney. Ms. Flores-Oebanda, president and executive director of the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VFF) based in Quezon City, Philippines, has dedicated her life to combating the use of child domestic workers and the trafficking of women and children for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation in the Philippines and internationally. The Iqbal Masih Award was established by Congress to recognize the work of an individual, company, organization or national government to end the worst forms of child labor. The award reflects the spirit of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child enslaved at the age of four who escaped his servitude and became an outspoken advocate against child slavery. Tragically, in 1995 at the age of 13 and a year after receiving the Reebok Human Rights Award, Iqbal was killed in Pakistan. His dedication to ending child slavery, however, continues to inspire individuals around the world.