United Methodist Women Joins World Day Against Child Labor
During the week of June 11, 2012, United Methodist Women will join children’s advocates around the world, lifting up concerns about the exploitation of children on the World Day Against Child Labor specifically in the production of cocoa—the main ingredient in chocolate bars.
As United Methodist Women members descend on Hershey, Penn., for the Northeastern Jurisdiction meeting, they will dialogue with Hershey Chocolate Corporation about the company’s business practices regarding cocoa sourcing. They will present postcards signed by United Methodist Women members across the country calling on Hershey to use independent certification to ensure that 100 percent of its cocoa supplies are free of child labor. Following the Hershey meeting, the Susquehanna Conference of United Methodist Women will host a devotional to commemorate World Day Against Child Labor.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 215 million children worldwide are involved in child labor. These children, many of whom are exposed to physical and emotional suffering, are deprived of education that could lift them and their families out of poverty.
Seventy percent of the world’s chocolate is grown on small farms in West Africa, including Ghana and the Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire). While the major global chocolate companies committed to ending child and forced labor in their cocoa supply chains in 2001, a decade later, an estimated 1.8 million children continue to work on cocoa farms in West Africa. United Methodist Women has supported the efforts of the Raise the Bar Coalition, a group calling on chocolate companies to get child labor out of their chocolate.
“We are calling on chocolate companies to use independent fair trade certification to ensure that none of the cocoa they buy has been harvested using child labor,” says Sabrina White, United Methodist Women’s Northeast Jurisdictional President.
Faithful Witness on Behalf of Children
As a faith-based women’s organization concerned about women, youth and children, United Methodist Women has long fought against child labor. The organization is a member of the Child Labor Coalition which addresses child labor in cocoa production and many other venues.
“Through its work of service and advocacy in mission to women, youth and children, United Methodist Women sees it as a Christian responsibility to challenge companies that profit from child labor and slave labor,” according to Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women.
In addition, United Methodist Women calls on the United States to ratify the U.N, Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO conventions #138 (Minimum Age Convention) and #182 (Worst Forms of Child Labor).
Ms. Toni Oplinger, president of the Susquehanna Conference United Methodist Women, states, “We know the U.S. can do better as a global leader on children's rights, and we call on Congress for immediate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
World Day Against Child Labor
Launched in 2002, World Day Against Child Labor sheds light on the rights of all children to be protected from child labor and from other violations of fundamental human rights. The day seeks to advance a 2012 roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by 2016.