Working to Eliminate a Worldwide Problem
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that some 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in work that is inappropriate for their age. Almost two-thirds of these children are in the worst forms of child labor, ranging from commercial farming to working excessive hours to slavery. Extreme poverty is the basic cause of their plight.
At Philip Morris International (PMI) we have a child and forced labor policy, which sets a minimum age and forbids the use of forced labor in all our facilities around the world.
However, child labor is a worldwide problem. It is impossible to know exactly how many children work in tobacco farming. Unfortunately, some major tobacco growing countries may count among those with child labor records. We are committed to funding programs around the globe, in cooperation with governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders, to eradicate child labor in tobacco growing communities.
Our programs focus on eliminating the root causes of child labor by improving the quality and accessibility of education for children of tobacco farmers, as well as living conditions in tobacco growing communities. Here are a few examples:
- In Colombia, we support the Department of Education and municipal authorities in their efforts to introduce a “New School” program to improve the quality of education in tobacco growing communities. As part of our support, PMI is funding a program through a local nonprofit, Dividendo Por Colombia, to renovate and equip 39 schools in the tobacco growing communities of Ovejas and Capitanejo.
- In Argentina, we are funding a major child labor eradication program known as ‘Porvenir’ in cooperation with the Tobacco Cooperative Foundation and the Conscience Association. PMI financing aims to upgrade educational quality by improving teacher salaries and training and by providing schools with teaching aids, educational materials, and supplies. The program is benefiting nearly 2,000 tobacco farmer children in the tobacco growing communities of San Vincente, Salta, and Jujuy.
- In Malaysia, we are funding a "back to school" program in the tobacco growing states of Sabah and Kelantan, in cooperation with the Malaysia Salam Foundation, by providing textbooks and supplies to more than 2,200 school age children of tobacco farm families.
- In Africa we are funding Total LandCare (TLC), an NGO associated with Washington State University, to alleviate poverty and reduce child labor in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. TLC’s programs currently reach nearly 4,000 villages and more than 460,000 people. Projects include supplying clean water, planting nearly 30 million trees, installing stoves, and constructing 100 schools over the next five years.
- We are also members of the Eliminate Child Labour in Tobacco (ECLT) foundation , an organization founded in April 2001, which is a partnership between trade unions, tobacco growers, and tobacco companies. The International Labour Organization (ILO) serves as an advisor to the ECLT Board. The ECLT is working with governments in Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia to reduce child labor in tobacco growing communities. Program elements include conducting child labor awareness programs for community leaders, providing safe drinking water, improving food security, financing poverty alleviation programs, and building new schools.