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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ILAB News Release: [06/10/2009]
Contact Name: Suzy Bohnert or Bennett Gamble
Phone Number: (202) 693-4665 or x4676
Release Number: 09-0589-NAT

U.S. Department of Labor marks 2009 World Day Against Child Labor with roundtable of employers, unions, academics, organizations, experts and activists

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis led discussion joined by Sen. Tom Harkin and White House Council on Women and Girls Executive Director Tina Tchen

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today marked the 2009 World Day Against Child Labor by hosting a roundtable discussion at the department with Sen. Tom Harkin; Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; representatives of many U.S. companies, unions, employer groups, nongovernmental and international organizations, and academia; and dozens of other experts and activists. The event focused on this year's World Day theme of "Give Girls a Chance — End Child Labor."

Secretary Solis reiterated the administration's commitment to assist vulnerable children worldwide, including supporting collaborative efforts to end the worst forms of child labor. Participants shared their experiences in combating exploitative child labor and provided insights on challenges and opportunities in addressing this widespread problem.

"Many challenges remain in the fight against child labor, but the department is committed to raising awareness, improving the quality of and access to education, and building the capacity of governments and civil society organizations to address the issues of children in need. This year's World Day calls for us to focus our attention on the special circumstances and needs of girls who are being used as child laborers," said Secretary Solis.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched World Day Against Child Labor in 2002, and it has been held annually on June 12, marked throughout the week by special events worldwide.

According to ILO estimates, of the 218 million child laborers worldwide, 100 million are girls. More than half of those girls are exposed to hazardous work in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, domestic services and commercial sexual exploitation. In many cases, work performed by girls is hidden from the public eye, leaving the girls vulnerable to physical danger and abuse.

Girls are often forced to carry a double burden by contributing significantly to their own households' chores, including child care, as well as undertaking other employment outside of their homes.

At the same time, gender inequalities persist in primary education. Of the 75 million out-of-school children in 2006, 55 percent were girls, and for every 100 boys in school, there are only 94 girls.

Secretary Solis also announced that the department will provide more than $60 million for programs to address exploitive child labor globally. These programs will provide education and vocational training opportunities to children and help parents find viable alternatives to child labor. Since 1995, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) has funded approximately $720 million in anti-child labor programs and rescued more than 1.3 million children from exploitation.

ILAB conducts research on and formulates international economic, trade and labor policies in collaboration with other U.S. government agencies. It also provides international technical assistance in support of U.S. foreign-labor policy objectives. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/ilab.