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11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

This article is not easy to read but raising awareness is crucial in solving the problems, therefore we bring you the list of countries that have the most child labor. Doing research for this article was nothing but easy, putting aside emotions and focusing on facts was challenging. For some facts and information, we turned to International Labor Organization (ILO), created in 1992, which is now one of the biggest organizations dedicated to child labor.

Even though the global number of children in child labor has declined since 2000 according to statistics by ILO, the horrific numbers are still shocking, somewhere around 85 million of children are put to dangerous work. “Child labor among girls fell by 40% since 2000, compared to 25% for boys” (ILO). However, even though the child labor among girls has decreased we must not forget about the present issue of child marriage. Pushing young children (or even adults) into forced marriages is nothing but terrorizing someone’s identity, pushing them over the edge. According to Human Rights Watch Report, one in nine girls marries before turning 15.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

By ignoring the present issues, we are letting down our children and therefore, our future. It is important to stay awake and informed, so please after you finish reading this article, take a look at another great article – 11 Countries with the Highest Rates of Human Trafficking in the World. The best way to fight the problem of basic human rights is to be informed and use that as a weapon, and not the violence. We must take in consideration that not every work done by children has to be classified as a “child labor” – children who help their parents to earn their pocket money are not considered dangerous since it doesn’t affect their school activities, furthermore doing small housework can teach them to be responsible. For example,  the first such “job” that comes to our mind can be when a child is in charge for his/her pet, feeding the dog, walking them, etc. ILO defines child labor as a work that deprives children of their childhood, suppressing their potential, not to mention jobs putting children at risk of physical injuries and sexual harassment. In some extreme cases, children are separated from their family at an early age, leaving them to carry on for themselves on the streets. There are different causes of child labor, the poorer the country, the bigger the chance for child labor.

In order to create the list of countries that have the most child labor we turned to last ILO’s World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young people.  There are different charts showing us the latest data on this matter, however we focused on the chart: Percentage of employed adolescents aged 15 to 17 years in hazardous work, by country. Let’s see the results.

11. Senegal 59.9%

Thousands of children are forced to beg on the streets of Dakar in Senegal. An enormous number of parents sent their children to Dakar so their children can gain religious knowledge, unfortunately, those children end up on streets begging barefoot, in clothes they wear every day for several months. Because they work on streets, they are exposed to sexual harassment every day. Al Jazeera has a great article about the Senegal children who face modern-day slavery, where you can learn more about the poor living conditions of the children.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

Christopher Morley-Pegge/

10. Ecuador 66.7%

Children in Ecuador, that ranked 10th on our list of countries that have the most child labor are exposed to worst forms of child labor. They work on banana plantations and they are used for sexual exploitation. The Government blames the lack of labor instructors and therefore, the children stay unprotected. Human Rights Watch did an investigation on child labor in Ecuador and found out that children start working on plantations from the age of eight. The situation they work is hazardous because the children are exposed to dangerous pesticides and they have to use machetes… Now imagine a child of eight holding a machete.

9. Bangladesh 68.7%

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) presents one of the largest surveys on child labor conducted in Dhaka. Not only the majority of children are sleeping in the urban slums, but their working hours go well beyond 64 hours per week. Two-thirds of girl laborers are working in garments sector, which makes you think how many of us are wearing their clothes right now? Some of the jaw-dropping statistics on child labor in Dhaka you can find here.

8. El Salvador 69.0%

We are continuing our list of countries that have the most child labor with El Salvador that fights many different problems that lead to an ever growing child labor issue. A majority of children that work in the fields are boys. Not only do they come from rural families, but they come from female-headed households. Children rights don’t seem to exist at all in El Salvador, leaving children to work long hours in garbage recycling and many other dangerous fields. Because there are no penalties for child labor violations, gangs use children for various illicit activities.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

Oleg Znamenskiy /

7. Egypt 70.6%

No matter what programs the Government tried to initiate to reduce numbers of child labor, agriculture and domestic work are still done by children. The first thing that should be improved is to remove prohibition for children from families with lower income to attend school. Since they are unable to pay for school fees and uniforms, they are forced to drop out of school. The Government needs to realize the vicious circle of this problem, if children don’t go to school they must work so they can survive, child labor problem will not disappear just like that. Above all that, many girls can only dream of going to school because their parents think such act is unnecessary. One of the many reasons why is important to spread awareness after you read this article on countries that have the most child labor. For more detailed report about Child Labor in Egypt, click here. And now, let’s see what else we have on our list of countries that have the most child labor.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

6. Nicaragua 71.0%

As stated by the Unicef in Nicaragua: Country Program Report (2013-2017), there are more than 2,5 millions of children under the age of 18 in the country. A majority of the children live in poverty, leaving them exposed to sexual exploitation, trafficking of the children, and working on the streets. National Information System on Child and Adolescent Rights must be be strengthened in order to reduce the horrific numbers of exposed children to hazardous situations. For more detailed report submitted by UNICEF, click here.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor


5. Sri Lanka 72.1%

According to the Sri Lanka Guardian article, children can only dream to go to school. Unlike Jordan where children work for 33 hours per week, in Sri Lanka they work over 43 hours. Every third out of five children is doing a hazardous job, where girls collect their paycheck on a monthly basis while boys collect their money by the end of the day. Even though such acts are punishable, Children Division Commissioner Padamanthan Mahdeva said that the majority of children is working in sectors such as fishing and packaging. For more detailed report on Child Activity Survey Sri Lanka 2016, you can find here.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor


4. Jordan 76.8%

According to 2016 National Child Labor Survey, the child labor in Jordan is only growing since 2007. In a span of 10 years, the numbers have doubled, causing children aged from 5-17 to work in dangerous situations. According to the survey (funded by the US Department of Labor) the majority of children is working over 33 hours per week. Agriculture and fishing are just a few among other jobs performed by children. With that being said, psychological and physical abuse are unfortunately present. The Syrian refugees in Jordan are even more in danger, because of their current situation, exploitation is only rising. According to the Government figures in Jordan, there is more than 1,3 million of Syrian refugees.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

Elena Mirage /

3. Honduras 79.1%

Children in Honduras that ranks 3rd on the list of countries that have the most child labor are no exception with this ever-existing problem. The majority of children are enslaved in agriculture, and what is worse, sexual exploitation and human trafficking are still present. The Government tried to enforce child labor laws in the country, the problem is, the lack of labor inspectors has frozen the action.  Because the Honduras is one of the countries with biggest rural/urban differences, agriculture is one of the main economies, with that said, the higher the hazardous risks are.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor


2. Vietnam 84.4%

A majority of children don’t attend school in Vietnam, that’s up next on our list of countries that have the most child labor. Not only are children forced to work for an incredibly small pay, but they are often exposed to human trafficking. In the article published by BBC, you can read that human traffickers would often aim for rural areas, promising parents they will give a better future for their children. Parents gladly gave children away, naive of what was happening. Taken children would spend their following years working in factories with no wages, and if they made some mistake they were punished with beating.  This is only one of many other child labor exploitations in Vietnam.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

1. Moldova 89.8%

Even though Moldova made several crucial steps in reducing numbers regarding child labor, the numbers are still strikingly high. As one of the steps in reducing child labor, the Government offered to finance some programs that were addressing child labor. Unfortunately, these programs don’t seem to last long because of the lack of finance. Not long ago, the Government decided to adopt the Action Plan 2015-2016 which means the child labor will be addressed more frequently. Moldova is known for having worst kinds of child labor – sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Because the life in Moldova is below the poverty line, children are forced to work in order to survive. With this we end our list of 11 countries that have the most child labor.

11 Countries That Have The Most Child Labor

Yupa Watchanakit/