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Global March Fifth Anniversary
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Friday, 17 January 2003
17 January 2003 - Five years after setting out from Manila on a crusade against child labour, the Global March marks its fifth anniversary today with a worldwide call for urgent action. Over the last five years the problem of child labour and the need for universal quality education have become among the top issues
on the international agenda. Decades of denial have finally given way to the realisation that no society can hope to prosper when its children are being exploited. Since its start the Global March has brought together a movement of over 2000 partners in 140 country to lead the fight against child labour. As a united voice for NGOs, trade unions, teachers associations, and individual activists, the Global March has time and again reminded the world that all children must be protected from exploitation and abuse. The all too common practice of using young children as child servants, soldiers, prostitutes, plantation workers, drug traffickers, or ragpickers has been a disgrace for the whole of humanity.

With the Global March, child labourers hemselves have passionately pleaded the case that children should be in good schools and not be put to work. "Children are the future of the country,
but they are working. I want to ask the governments, what their future is?" said Pintu, a former child stone crusher.

The gap between awareness and action has ever been wider. The ILO estimates that even today 246 million children are working as child labourers, with almost three-quarters of them caught in the worst forms. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March, appealed to all people to make this crisis their call to action. "Will we sit comfortably in our homes and offices as we watch the life and spirit of countless children disappear before our very eyes? If we fail to act now we are no less responsible than the worst exploiter."

In the Philippines the partners of the Global March have been pushing for passage of sweeping national legislation for immediate
action against the worst forms of child labour. Public demonstrations and meetings with legislators, government officials and civic leaders during this week have reinforced the countrys commitment to reduce the number of Filipino child labourers to less than half its current level within the next five years.

In his message of support, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the world community to make ending child labour a common cause. "Few human rights abuses are so widely condemned, yet so widely practised," he noted. "The big challenge, as so often, lies in the implementation of good intentions. The Global March Against
Child Labour inspires us in that mission. Let us make it a priority. Because a child in danger is a child that cannot wait."

For more information, please contact:
Press Officer
International Secretariat
Global March Against Child Labor
L-6 Kalkaji, New Delhi 110 019, India
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