Awareness-raising campaigns and state intervention in territories as strategies against child labour in Colombia

According to figures from the Ministry of Labour, in Colombia some 522,593 children were found to be working in 2021, mainly in the agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing, commerce and vehicle repair sectors in the cities of Cúcuta (Norte de Santander), Florencia (Caquetá), Cali and Yumbo (Valle del Cauca), Medellín (Antioquia) and Villavicencio (Meta). Although there are 63,304 fewer child workers than in the previous year, child labour must be eliminated – and this can be done through public intervention.

In the case of this governmental body, the Ministry has formed alliances with national institutions such as the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), governors’ and mayors’ offices, and other international cooperation agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO). 

 With 2021 being the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, the Colombian Ministry of Labour has confirmed its interest by being part of the group of actors who join forces through the commitment “To carry out regional activities that provide technical assistance in relation to the public policy line for the eradication of child labour”. To achieve this, during the current year work was carried out in coordination with the regional committees to provide knowledge about the problem of child labour to public officials, parents, teachers, employees, employers, students and the general public through virtual and face-to-face training, events and webinars. In addition, the Ministry reinforced the use of the Sistema de Información Integrado para la Identificación, Registro y Caracterización del Trabajo Infantil y sus Peores Formas (Integrated Information System for the Identification, Registration and Characterization of Child Labour and its Worst Forms – SIRITI) and deployed an extensive awareness-raising campaign through institutional social networks and mass and local media.

Examples of the latter are: the design of campaign materials alluding to situations in which children are working, radio spots, live streams and publications related to speeches by the Minister of Labour on the subject. The Colombian institution has also been praised in the USA for its progress in eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the  United States Department of Labor report