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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Herman Expands Department's Fight Against Child Labor to Central America [04/20/1998]

For more information call: (202) 219-6373

Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman announced today a $1 million grant to implement President Clinton's plan to combat child labor in Central America. Last week in Santiago, Chile, President Clinton noted this initiative in his speech to U.S. and Chilean business leaders, where he also called on Central American countries to join the U.S. in the global initiative to combat abusive child labor. The Labor Department's program is another step in the Administration's Child Labor Initiative the President called for in his State of the Union message in January.

The President said out, "Earlier this year, I asked our Congress for a 10-fold increase in our investment to combat child labor abuses worldwide....I hope our neighbors will join us in that fight."

In Central America, many young children harvest shellfish, work in stone quarries and peddle goods in the streets. Young girls are forced into child prostitution. The exploitation is compounded by the fact that the great majority of child workers do not get an education. This keeps them in poverty and continues the cycle of deprivation and exploitation.

When she announced the grant, Herman said, "These funds for the Central American project are part of my Department's overall program to eliminate exploitative child labor at home and abroad. Whether it's in the U.S. or Central America, abusive child labor must be eliminated. We want to see that kids throughout our hemisphere are in schoolrooms and not workrooms."

The Central American initiative will be channeled through a $1 million U.S. grant to the International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) of the International Labor Organization. The funds will be used to support individual projects to remove children from hazardous and exploitative work as well as for a survey and database on child labor in Central America.

The IPEC projects in Central America will work with the host countries to focus on identifying and removing children from exploitative jobs, providing formal and non-formal education, counseling families and promoting income-generating alternatives for adults. At a meeting with her Central American counterparts last November, Labor Secretary Herman announced the Administration's intention to provide a $1 million grant for this work. The President today doubled that amount by including $1 million in USAID funds.

The President's FY1999 budget proposes making the U.S. the world leader in supporting programs to reduce exploitative child labor by increasing our commitment to IPEC to $30 million in fiscal year 1999.

Since 1995, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has contributed over $8 million to IPEC. DOL has funded and helped design IPEC projects in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal, the Philippines, Africa and Brazil. In addition, the Congress has directed DOL to study the nature and extent of the use of abusive child labor in the manufacture of products imported into the U.S. Four reports have been prepared for Congress and a fifth is underway.

A description of the DOL international child labor program and full texts of the reports can be found at

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
April 20, 1998
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number