Fighting for Children’s Rights on UN World Day Against Child Labor

Fighting for Children’s Rights on UN World Day Against Child Labor

June 12th has been designated the UN World Day Against Child Labor to remember the children who have been robbed of their childhood, education and opportunities for a better future and to advocate for those in forced childhood labor, today, as I write this. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 218 million children in employment, 152 million children in child labor, and 73 million children in hazardous work. Of the 152 million children who work as child laborers, 64 million are girls and 88 million are boys. 

According to the ILO, child labor is defined as “the use of children in industry or business, especially when illegal or considered inhumane.” Children (aged 5 to 17) are put to work, either to provide for their families or to survive on their own. In the same report by the ILO, 71% work in the agricultural sector and 69% perform unpaid work within their family unit.

There are many places around the world where children who work are protected by law either by age restrictions or working condition minimums. For example, where I live in the United States, the issue of having children work in harmful conditions was addressed beginning in 1938 with the enactment of Fair Labor Standards Act, the first child labor law in the nation. I often take these types of child labor laws for granted, but unfortunately, many children around the world don’t share these same protections.

One reason can be attributed to poverty (also keep in mind 1 out of 5 children in the U.S. also live in poverty), but it can also be as a result of traditions held by families who believe that children are meant to work for their keep. In addition, these children lose the opportunity for a better future for themselves since they are not expected or don’t have a path to receive an education. Children whose families are struggling to survive are expected to work and don’t have the luxury of opting out, but they do this at the expense of their childhood and their future.

Of the countries surveyed by the ILO, Africa had the highest number of child laborers at 72.1million by region, while the Asia and Pacific region follow close behind at 62.1 million child workers. These numbers are alarming and with the stress of the recent pandemic, the numbers have grown.

The (ILO) report warns that globally, nine million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. A simulation model shows this number could rise to 46 million if they don’t have access to critical social protection coverage.—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_797515.pdf

As a woman whose first job was as a paid neighborhood babysitter at age 16, I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for those children who are forced into labor in order to survive and provide for our family. And as a mom of a young adult, I believe that children should not be deprived of their childhood or a future — I couldn’t imagine that for my own daughter, and I want to help prevent it from happening to other kids around the world. To my fellow moms around the world who believe that children should remain as children, instead of being exploited, we need to keep fighting for their rights, not just today, but every day.

So, what can we do to advocate for the children who need it most? Here are few of the organizations that World Moms Network has advocated for in the past in support of the rights of children:

The Advocates for Human Rights — an organization based in Minnesota, USA whose mission is “The mission of The Advocates for Human Rights is to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law. By involving volunteers in research, education, and advocacy, we build broad constituencies in the United States and select global communities.” One of our contributors, Jennifer Prestholdt, is an international human rights lawyer who works for this organization.

Save the Children — a global organization based in Connecticut, USA which in 1919 was “the first global movement for children, boldly declaring that children have rights.” They work in over 100 countries, and child sponsorships are available. In 2015 several of our World Moms met Save the Children at the UN in NYC to report on programs that benefited children worldwide.

UNICEF — officially, The United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF “works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.”In 2012 several of our World Moms went to Uganda with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to view UNICEF’s family and children health days throughout the country.

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Regional Editor, Tes Silverman, of Virginia, USA.

“Stop Child Labor Graffiti” by The Advocacy Project is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:

World Voice: Akka – A Visionary Who Won the Hearts of Little Ones #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour

World Voice: Akka – A Visionary Who Won the Hearts of Little Ones #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child laborers and what can be done to help them. Today, on World Moms Network, we commemorate this day by writing a tribute to Mathioli R. Saraswathy, a philantrophist who dedicated her life for the betterment of the lives of children.

Mathioli R. Saraswathy, the founder of Nandalala Seva Samithi

Mathioli R. Saraswathy, the founder of Nandalala Seva Samithi

Mathioli R. Saraswathy, the founder of Nandalala Seva Samithi, who passed away on May 9, 2018, was fondly called as ‘Akka’  by her loved ones all over the world. She was a legend who not only looked beyond the ambiguity and challenges of every day but also foresaw the empowering picture of tomorrow for them.

‘Akka’ is an endearing word that defines a close relationship. In the Tamil language, it refers to one’s elder sister, who is supposed to be a step above the rest. True to this word, she who was held in high esteem, was actually an exception to this rule as she mingled freely them.

Akka established Nandalala Mission, a non-profit organization, in the early 90s in Chennai to nurture the fullest potential of children through educational, cultural, physical and service-oriented activities.

Age was no barrier for this 78-year-old enigmatic personality who was always befriending little ones all over the world. She believed that every child is bestowed with creativity and encouraged their latent talents.  She had no linguistic barriers and made them understand her love for them and they too reciprocated their abiding love for their dear ‘Akka’.

She loved being with them, conversing with them, playing with them and elaborating about this beautiful world around them. She could talk with ease about flowers, trees, birds, animal, sea, and stars. In her eyes, children reflected the finest blend of grace, charm, and beauty of the world. Just like the child in ‘Akka’ was alive until her last moments, she will continue to live in the hearts of the little ones all around the world.

Though this charismatic personality disappeared from their lives forever, the little ones still look forward to her visit at the Nandalala Temple, part of the Mission, located in Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in India.

The little ones are not alone. Their mothers, older sisters, and even grandmothers miss the frail figure who was more than a mother to every one of them. “She was our ‘Amma’ (meaning mother in Tamil) and will always be, they say.  On the day her soul left her body, one could see that it was a big blow to the women who were involved in various activities of the Samithi with their ‘Amma’.  “We do not know to live without her guidance. She was always there whenever we faced any problem, official or personal. Whom do we turn to now,” they wailed.

Mathioli R. Saraswathy

Mathioli R. Saraswathy

Mercifully, this image is sustained from anecdotes drawn from their lives. Anecdotes that prove that Mathioli Saraswathy was their mother in all ways throughout their lives.

For Vidya, who was plagued with a number of personal problems Akka was a good mother who internalized her. For more than a decade now, she has always helped her to tide over innumerable problems. She has counseled her like a mother and helped her to unleash her potential and become independent.

Says Vidya: Akka was of the view that external parenting always made a child dependent on its mother. But if you internalize and facilitate the child to be aware of its potential, the child will achieve greater heights. More than that it will not mirror its patent’s potential and this alone will help it to achieve its goal in life.

Mathioli R. Saraswathy

Mathioli R. Saraswathy

“Mathioli Saraswathy always believed that good daughters can become an effective mother,” said Seetha Nagarajan, who is a globetrotter and who has been associated with her for nearly four decades now.  She goes on to explain that it was because of this the Chennai chapter of Nandalala Seva Samithi began an activity called ‘Mathruseva’ (meaning service to mother) through which the underprivileged were given free food.

Seetha Nagarajan saw Akka open chapters in San Francisco, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. “They were all begun one after the year between 1997 and 1998,” explained Seetha.

She goes on to explain some of the activities in these places. In the early years, volunteers of the Mission took children to local museums, volunteering at local homeless shelters, talent shows, and quiz competitions.  As ‘Akka’ always believed in feeding the poor and needy, volunteers focused on services on a larger scale. They distribute sandwich bags, provide meal services at community shelters and soup kitchens. Children too are involved to make them undergo the joy of giving and bliss of social services.

The Mission also provides a platform for children to showcase their talent. “A youth concert series was begun to give a home-concert environment for budding artists. This has not only encouraged children to perform before an august audience but has also been well received by the residents. A concert is organized every month,” said Seetha.

“The Mission also distributes scholarships to well-deserving under-privileged students from India and also reaches out to children on a broader international scale. “Also, on an ongoing basis, the Mission has been donating books to school libraries in Australia, Canada, and India.

Philanthropic personality

Mathioli R. Saraswathy with children

Mathioli R. Saraswathy with children

Life of ‘Akka’ who was born in Puducherry on October 9, 1940, was entirely dedicated to philanthropy. With the aim of serving the needy, she began numerous trusts such as Nandalala Seva Samithi, Sri Nandalala Religious Trust, Nandalala Medical Foundation and Yogasaras Educational Academy in Bengaluru, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Tiruchy, and Tiruvananthapuram, in India.

She was always of the view that the trusts helped children not only tread the path of love but also instilled values-based systems and made them imbibe Indian culture.

Apart from the trusts, ‘Akka’ provided financial assistance for the underprivileged in India too. Economically-deserving students were not only given financial assistance to pursue their higher studies, but also uniforms and food. The summer camps held exclusively for children at various places in the city helped them to hone their creativity and learning skills.

Managed under the banner of Nandalala Medical Foundation, she had set up a low-cost dialysis center, clinics for ENT care, eye care, physiotherapy, and acupressure.

Lucid writer

‘Akka’ was also a prolific writer. She has penned innumerable poems, songs, prayers and stories for children and philosophical commentaries in Tamil. Some of her works have been translated into English as well. Art was an integral feature in all her books.

In 1998 and 1999, she was awarded the national NCERT award by the Indian Government for her work for children. She was awarded a gold medal in 1991 for her book on science “Vinnilirundhu mann varai” by the Children’s Writers’ Association.

Apart from this, she had the habit of releasing books on Christmas every year and has been doing so for more than three decades.  These books were published by Akka to showcase her love for children.

Yes, passing away of this legend has not dimmed her appeal. She still remains a friendly spirit, hovering around.

This is an original post for World Moms Network written by guest poster, Lalitha Sai, in India, as a tribute to ‘akka’. 

Lalitha Sai, Journalist, India

Lalitha Sai, Journalist, India

Lalitha Sai, is a writer based in Chennai, India. She is happily married to a police officer. Her son is an engineer in Europe, and her daughter is a doctor in Chennai. She has 25 years of experience in journalism and has held posts of senior editor in the leading news dailies of India, “The Hindu” and “DT NEXT”. She focused on women empowerment in her articles.

She is now working as the head of operations of content releases in a private company.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.

Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms

Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle Plus