Global March Against Child Labor Arrives in the United States


The Global March Against Child Labor arrives today in the United States. Two days of events in the Los Angeles area will launch the U.S. leg of the Global March. Former child laborers from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States, along with children's rights advocates, will then travel across the country to Washington, D.C., participating along the way in local events demanding education, not exploitation, for children.

The Global March began in Manila, the Philippines, in January and has traveled across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Americas March, which began in Saõ Paulo, Brazil, on February 25, will cross the United States from May 1 through May 27.

After a concluding rally in Washington, D.C., on May 27, participants will leave for Geneva, Switzerland, where marchers from around the world will converge as the International Labor Organization (ILO) convenes a meeting of government, business and workers' representatives to consider a new international convention on the most intolerable forms of child labor.

The Global March aims to establish a worldwide movement to promote the rights of all children to receive an education and to be free from work that exploits them or damages their physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

The Global March is an international alliance of more than 1,000 organizations in more than 100 countries. Organized as a massive expression of public concern, it is a combination of marches and bus caravans linked with an extensive program of local and national demonstrations, events and advocacy campaigns throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 250 million child workers in the world today. Children work on farms, in mines, in factories making garments and carpets, in homes as domestic servants, and on the streets peddling goods or selling their bodies.

In the United States, an estimated 230,000 children work illegally on farms, picking fruits and vegetables. Often these children belong to migrant farm families who travel across the country to follow the harvest. According to the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, an advocacy group for migrant farmworkers, 45 percent of these children drop out of school before they graduate from high school.

The goals of the Global March are to raise awareness of child labor, urge governments to ratify and enforce existing conventions and laws on child labor and education, demand the immediate elimination of the most exploitative forms of child labor, and promote positive actions by employers and consumers.

Each regional march will also highlight specific regional problems and issues. The U.S. march has two main goals: to focus attention on domestic child labor problems, particularly those related to sweatshops and migrant agricultural work, and to encourage consumers to demand, retailers to sell and manufacturers to produce child-labor-free goods.

The Los Angeles launch activities will begin on May 1 with a Teach-In on Child Labor sponsored by the Global March Against Child Labor, the International Labor Organization and the Children's Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego School of Law. Representatives of the International Labor Organization and local unions, along with teachers, youth activists and former child laborers, will speak at the teach-in.

A rally and ska concert on Saturday, May 2, will kick off the U.S. Global March. The morning rally in Santa Monica will be followed by the "Ska for Children's Rights" concert at the well-known West Hollywood club Whisky a Go-Go. The concert includes the bands Attaboy Skip, My Superhero and Filibuster.

"The time has come to initiate a real endeavor to make the whole world one family for the future citizens of this planet. When I see the tremendous support the Global March has received, it becomes certain that the 21st century is not going to flourish at the cost of the sweat and blood of children," said Kailash Satyarthi of India, the International Coordinator for the March.

The U.S. March will also stop in San Diego, CA; Mexicali, CA; Yuma, AZ; Tucson, AZ; El Paso, TX; Edinburgh, TX, San Antonio, TX; Dallas, TX: Hope and Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; St. Louis, MO; Bloomington and Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; New York, NY; and Philadelphia, PA.

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Event information:

Teach-in Friday, May 1, 1998

9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

New Roads School, 5753 Rodeo Road, Los Angeles

Contact: Dan Carol, 800/711-4135

Rally Saturday, May 2, 1998

10:00 a.m.

3rd Street Promenade, Los Angeles

Contact: Lucia Hodgson, 310/652-3935

Concert Saturday, May 2, 1998

11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Whiskey a Go-Go, 8901 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles

Contact: Lucia Hodgson, 301/652-3935

For more information about the Global March Against Child Labor, please contact Anjali Kochar at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights at 202/463-7575, ext. 227, fax 202/463-6606.