31 July 2007


Most would not be aware that almost 80% of the world’s supply of soccer balls are manufactured in and around the city of Sialkot in Pakistan.

Up until recently child labour was widely employed in the manufacture of those soccer balls. A concerted world–wide campaign over the past ten years has seen the major brands of sporting goods introduce policies prohibiting child labour, although a recent US Department of Labor report noted that "very few (of those policies) are enforced through a rigorous monitoring system"

Nevertheless in November 2006 after continued unfavourable publicity Nike terminated its agreement with Pakistan based company Saga Sports over its continued use of child labour in the production of its soccer balls.

Of course the issue of child labour goes well beyond the manufacture of sporting equipment.

One in seven children in the world is a child labourer: that's nearly 14 per cent of the children in the age group 5-14 years.

One in five children in the world do not go to school – this is nearly 18 per cent of the children in the primary school age group.

The list of pressing global human needs is daunting but the UN Millennium Development Goals represent a comprehensive, systematic and achievable means of addressing those needs.

Education is key in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and redirecting millions of child labourers to school is crucial in enabling out-of-school children to be provided with an education.

Information about the broader issue of child labour can be found at the Global March Against Child Labour website.

In the meantime perhaps readers may care to give consideration to supporting companies with a strong commitment to ethical and fair trading when making their next purchase of sporting equipment or apparel.

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