International Day Against Child Labour

International Day Against Child Labour 2560 1440 our civic space

International Day Against Child Labour

International Day Against Child Labour aims to raise awareness on the global extent of child labour and on the actions and efforts needed to eliminate it. According to the experts, the root causes of child labour are poverty, lack of quality education, limited access to decent work opportunities for those of legal working age, social marginalisation, discrimination, the prevalence of the informal economy, weak social dialogue, among others.

Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, child labour is described as such when children are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.

The latest Global Estimates state that 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are involved in child labour globally [1]. In all regions, boys and girls are equally likely to be involved in child labour, however, gender inequalities are noticed in the types of activities carried out, with girls far more likely to be involved in unpaid household services.

COVID-19 impact on child labour
According to UNICEF [2], for the first time in two decades the number of children victims of child labour has risen and the current COVID-19 pandemic can potentially intensify the problem. The global interruption of education caused by confinement measures and the lack of distance-learning solutions/alternatives in many countries could drive the child labour numbers up.

What is ICDI doing about this?
Since mid-2019, ICDI has been managing Kinderpostzegels’ projects against child labour in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Together with our partner organisations, we are working to eradicate child labour by promoting education and strengthening local capacities to ensure the sustainability of so called Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ).  These projects include recreational activities and events that aim to decrease school dropout and promote school enrollment, such as: football championships, children’s day festivals and art workshops. Besides promoting child and youth participation, these activities help raise awareness about the harmful consequences of child labour. You can read more about these projects here

[1] Global Estimates of Child Labour:

[2] Unicef:

Written by ICDI

Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador

Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador 700 350 our civic space

Covid-19 Affects Civic Space in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador

Utrecht University research shows how measures to combat Covid-19 have limited people’s freedoms and rights in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador.

Covid-19 affects the lives of many. But the responses of governments to fight the pandemic may have even more profound consequences. This is not just an issue of health or of the economy, but also of rights and freedoms. In many places, measures taken have heavily affected civic space – that is the freedom people have to express and organise themselves collectively. Two new in-depth country cases studies in Utrecht University’s research project Civic Space under Attack, led by dr Chris van der Borgh and prof dr Antoine Buyse, track what happened in Hungary, Poland and El Salvador in the past half year.

In a nutshell, the review of measures taken show that where civic space was already under pressure before the outbreak of the pandemic, the situation was exacerbated by the measures to fight Covid-19. Sometimes as side effects of restrictive lockdowns, states of emergency or polarizing political discourse, but very often also by using the need to fight the disease as a cover to curtail civil society and curtail critical voices all in one go. The case studies track how civil society and citizens were affected by such government measures and shows how people managed to reclaim space for debate in creative ways, from protesting in cars to creating new online spaces.

Poland and Hungary – comparing two illiberal regimes
Research student Adam Dargiewicz looked into the measures taken by two European illiberal governments in Hungary and Poland. His analysis shows that the emergency powers deployed in Hungary carry a higher potential of becoming weaponized against independent societal actors than in Poland since their scope is more far-reaching. the pandemic in both countries might lead to the solidification of the already existing anti-civil society tendencies rather than to the development of a completely new approach. But, the situation in both countries vividly shows that organizations, grassroot movements and journalists presented great resilience and creativity, and maintained their capability to uphold and rearrange civic space. 

El Salvador
Research student Welmoed Barendsen investigated the volatile situation in El Salvador. While the government’s response was rapid, it was also very strict (mandatory lockdowns, containment centres) and unpredictable and the means deployed were at times violent and based on unclear legal grounds. The populist president has tried to discredit virtually everyone (academics, religious leaders, human rights activists, business leaders and journalists) critical of his policies. At the same time, this report also shows that civil society actors continue to defend, contest and conquer civic space, from journalists distributing food to crowdfunding campaigns. In the context of democratic backsliding in El Salvador, which started well before Covid-19, the pandemic seems to have had had an accelerating impact.

Earlier, the project produced a bibliography with the newest reports and literature on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on civic space. This offers a systematised overview with a summarising introduction on the key issues involved. Many of these also feature in the now released case studies.

Story by Utrecht University

Working together to tackle Covid-19

Working together to tackle Covid-19 2560 1707 our civic space

Working together to tackle Covid-19

Currently, people and countries all over the world are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide measures are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further. This resulted in lock down situations worldwide. These measures have unfortunately influenced ISA’s work in different ways. However, there is much we as a team can and will do to keep on working on our mission and support the world to overcome this crisis.

During the first months of the pandemic, the ISA team has worked hard on creating a COVID-19 awareness plan for both West and East Africa, in order to protect the thousands of young people and their families who we want to impact through our work. We believe we need to take responsibility and play a role in ensuring everyone is properly informed, stays physically active and has a healthy lifestyle at home. ISA’s youth and coaches are local advocates of this awareness plan to increase the awareness through different activities and initiatives carried out by and for them – and their communities. Through them, ISA hopes to impact the community by: correctly informing and convincing our partners, colleagues, coaches and communities about COVID-19 to ensure that the awareness increases and thus keeping the ISA family physically active and healthy. Through this awareness plan, we aspire to see ISA partner organisations, coaches / mentors, youth, families and communities become role models and advocates within their communities.

“If sport teaches us anything, it is that teamwork is essential and that together we are stronger. In the same way, we shall overcome COVID-19 if we work together. Likewise, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a pathway towards a sustainable future for all, leaving no one behind, with peaceful and inclusive societies, and a healthy planet. We can only get there by working together. Sport plays an important advocative role in combatting the spread of diseases and highlighting the importance of international solidarity. In times of crisis, fear and anxiety can consume us. Alone, it seems, we can do very little, but working together, we can do so much. Even though sporting events have come to a halt for now, athletes, major and small sports leagues and community sports organisations deliver messages of positivity — connecting us with each other. Sport is bringing people and communities together, helping us find common ground, regardless of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation” (UN, 2020).

Together we need to stay strong, follow the given measures and fight this pandemic. Through different measures ISA is helping our family to stay healthy. With enough commitment from everyone, we can efficiently fight this pandemic!

Written by ISA