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Child Labor within the Ecuadorian Cities of Guayaquil and Quito 14 14 Policy Brief on the Future of Work MARTINDALE CENTER Executive Summary Child labor is one of the worst issues facing our world, impact- ing millions of children worldwide. While many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are directly and indirect- ly focused on child labor, there has yet to be an identifiable and definitive solution. Rather, it is the complexity and mul- tidimensionality of issues contributing to the perpetua- tion of child labor that enable the practice to continue. This paper will address child labor within Ecuador in an effort to raise awareness within the general public. Urban centers in Ecuador are plagued with increasing numbers of migrant children being forced into the worst forms of child labor. This is most evident in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil, where migrant children are thought to be engaged in the worst forms of child labor. Typical forms of child labor include informal agriculture, domestic service, and street work. Recent figures indicate that approximately 4.9% of migrant childrenare forced towork in these conditions,whichremoves them from school and learning environments (International Labour Organization [ILO c]). The recent economic crises facing Ecuador, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, are contributing factors to a rise in child labor, despite projects instituted by the government, churches, and NGOs. In addi- tion, the Ecuadorian government has committed the coun- try to abide by Convention 182, introduced by the ILO, which focusesonabolishing child labor (ILOb). This isof importance to migrant and refugee children from neighboring countries who seek asyluminEcuador. OncewithinEcuador, these fam- ilies often find themselves forced to depend upon their chil- dren’s labor due to lack of documentation, increased discrim- ination, and blockades to entering school. Given the severity and critical need for change, new programs should be utilized to help eradicate child labor in these areas. We propose inno- vative and actionable measures to help local communities; examples include a Youth Impulse Program and the dissemi- nation of awareness materials for public consumption. Issues and Challenges Child labor is an interwoven, complex subject that impacts the economic, educational, and societal well-being of children, families, andcommunities.Becauseof thiscomplexity, reducing instances of child labor requires a multidimensional solution that incorporates education, job growth, and awareness. Child labor, as defined by the ILO, is “work that deprives children of their childhood and work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous.” This includes any type of work that “interferes with schooling by depriving them the opportunity to attend, leave school prematurely, or requiring the combination of school attendancewith excessively long and heavy work” (ILO c). Whilemany nations and international agencies actively work to remedy these challenges, countries such as Ecuador have seen alarming increases in the prevalence of child labor in two of their largest urban centers, Quito and Guayaquil, and most significantly inmigrant childrenpopulations.Within the broader context of the Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., quality education for all), the recommendations and steps set forth in this policy document are intended to support a world where no child has to sacrifice school or their future for work. The recommendations will provide insight into the broader underlying conditions allowing child labor to continue, with specific proposals to support sustainable opportunities for measurable local impact programs within the urban centers of Quito and Guayaquil. In addition, issues related to the impact of COVID-19, including increased financial hardships for many families and forced school closures, are reversing years of educational progress in Quito and Guayaquil. The swift and brutal financial devastation caused by the pandemic have forced families into poverty, which is a significant predictor of increased child labor (ILO & UNICEF). On a global scale, the COVID-19 pandemic These Martindale Center Policy Briefs on the Future of Work were prepared by teams of students and young professionals serving as Research Externs with the Lehigh University / United Nations Partnership working in affiliation with the International Labour Organization. Authors: Thiago Hernandes • Madeline Leavitt • María Emilia Menoscal • Kathryn Rice • Ivonne Salinas • Jamila Shah • Zhangzhichun Xu Series Editor: Stephen Cutcliffe, Ph.D. February 2021 Child Labor within the Ecuadorian Cities of Guayaquil and Quito