There are no "quick fixes" to the complex problem of child labour, which is closely related to the level of economic and social development in a country. Economic disparities between countries make it unrealistic to expect developing countries to afford the same facilities for their children as industrialized ones. Similarly, employers' organizations in developing countries are constrained in terms of available resources and institutional capacity. Nevertheless, employers' organizations have unique strengths on which they can capitalize, particularly in the areas of advocacy, awareness-raising, and policy development, and by forging alliances with other concerned stakeholders who have a proven track record in combating child labour and who share the same objectives (see Chapter 9). Many NGOs, for example, have been innovative and dynamic in the struggle against child labour and more employers are working closely with NGOs and trade unions as part of the civil society response to child labour.
The key initial goal should be to raise the problem of child labour - its characteristics, causes and consequences - before the board or management of the national and sectoral employers' organizations in each country, making it clear that this is an issue with wide ramifications on national economic, social and human resource development.
In countries which are starting to address their child labour problems, employers' organizations can take several steps. An employers' organization interested in joining national efforts to combat child labour can identify a member of its staff to serve as a "child labour focal point". This person can play an active role on the National Steering Committee on child labour and in national networks for the elimination of child labour. Initial activities may be modest and aimed primarily at information gathering and at increasing the awareness of the problem among its own members, other sectoral business groups, and society at large. Initially, employers' organizations can work alongside and support other groups active in the area of child labour, rather than embarking on a major programme alone. In this respect, linkages with IPEC national programmes are important in ensuring coordination.
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