Building a Comprehensive Government of Mexico Approach to Combating Child Labor and Forced Labor

Project Duration
April 2022
March 2027
Funding and Year

This project will enhance the effectiveness of the Government of Mexico to combat child labor and forced labor at the federal level and support specific interventions in the southern states of Chiapas, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo. The duration of the project will be five years (60 months).

The Problem

According to the 2020 ILO report on the Global Estimates on Child Labor, global progress against child labor has stalled and the COVID-19 crisis has likely pushed many more children into child labor. This is likely the situation in Mexico where, despite a government program that broadcasted educational classes via internet, television, and radio, initial reports suggest that 2.5 million children did not continue their basic education and that the number of children engaging in child labor will increase by 5.5 percent.  School disruption is one of the underlying causes of child labor; however, more data is needed to fully assess the impact the pandemic and other policy actions have had on the elimination of child labor and forced labor in Mexico.   

Under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Government of Mexico has committed to address labor rights violations, including related to child labor. Moreover as an active part of the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labor (RILAC) and as a Pathfinder country under Alliance 8.7, Mexico has committed to accelerate efforts and pilot new approaches to end forced labor and child labor in all its forms. 

However, Mexico does not yet have a national strategy to bring together federal and state-level plans on child labor in a coordinated manner. The Government of Mexico has limited resources dedicated to implementing a nationwide strategy for addressing child and forced labor and establishing strategic partnerships with other countries across the region. The Ministry of Labor, which is responsible for spearheading these efforts, lacks sufficient resources and expertise to update policies, strategic plans, and programming at the federal, state, and municipal levels to address child labor and forced labor effectively and sustainably. 

According to the 2019 National Child Labor Survey, the states of Chiapas and Yucatán were reported to have child labor rates above the national average of 11.5% with rates of 18.3% and 11.9%, respectively, while the child labor rate for Quintana Roo was approximately 10.2%. Moreover, these numbers have likely increased as a result of the pandemic. All three states are in southern Mexico and receive many migrants from Central America. There is also a large indigenous population in this region. Both migrants and indigenous persons are among the most vulnerable groups at risk of child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. Unfortunately, these states have limited resources and data and lack the strategic partnerships needed to appropriately address and prevent child labor and forced labor.

Our Strategy

This project seeks to build the capacities of the Government of Mexico to combat child labor and forced labor at the federal level and support specific interventions at the state level in Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán.

The project seeks to achieve its objective through accomplishing the following outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Improved implementation and enforcement of evidence-based laws, policies, and programs related to combating child labor and forced labor in Mexico.
  • Outcome 2: Increased coordination between the federal, national, and local governments to combat child labor and forced labor in Mexico and throughout the region.
  • Outcome 3: Strengthened regional response for the eradication of child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in persons in the context of migration.

To achieve these outcomes, the project will strengthen the capacities of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI in Spanish) and other relevant institutions to collect, record, process, and analyze data on child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in persons for the purposes of informing federal policies and programming. This includes the analysis and dissemination of data from the 2019 National Child Labor Survey as well as the design and implementation of the 2022 National Child Labor Survey. 

The project will also work to improve information flows across federal, state, and municipal governments, and civil society. It will also help to ensure evidenced-based data is accessible and being used for the development of laws, policies, programs, and awareness raising campaigns related to preventing and addressing child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.  

The project will provide technical expertise to build the Government of Mexico’s ability to lead collaborative efforts with Central American countries to prevent migrant children in Mexico from becoming involved in child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking, fulfilling Mexico’s commitments to the USMCA, Alliance 8.7, and RILAC. The project will focus its state level interventions within Chiapas, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo since they are in southern Mexico, which borders Central America.

International Labor Organization (ILO)
Contact Information: / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Alliance 8.7
Awareness Raising
Capacity Building
Forced Labor