In many cotton growing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, hard physical labour is still the norm for many children, rather than having free time or going to school.
To protect children Cotton made in Africa applies conventions 138 and 182 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO): Thereby, children are prohibited from working outside of the family; any form of exploitative child labour that harms children’s health and development is banned.
The cotton farmers participating in the initiative are smallholders, generally working on the fields with their family. It is still normal for children to work on their parents’ farms. ILO conventions permit this as long as the children also have enough time for school and to play. Even within the family, however, any work that could harm the child’s health or development is prohibited. For example, children are forbidden from applying pesticides and from carrying heavy loads.
Cotton made in Africa has developed its own training materials to inform people in cotton-growing areas on this important topic and to sensitize them on the areas in which it is acceptable for their children to help them.