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  • Writer's picturePatrick McGahren

Child Labour & Modern Slavery - The Power of Sport at the Grassroots as a Vehicle for Prevention

Updated: Jun 23

In the first quarter of the 21st century, it is a sad reality that the exploitation of child labour and modern slavery continues to blight the periphery of an increasingly consumerist and demanding world. And where visible divides in wealth cast a shadow of underpaid servitude upon the most vulnerable.

 As we mark the 25th International Day Against Child Labour, many children in Sierra Leone continue to be faced with the unfair choice of living in absolute poverty or an existence of hard labour, and the risks of modern slavery and trafficking.

While we are unable to resolve the macro-challenges at the policy level, Girls in Sport work from the bottom up to facilitate the provision of opportunities through sport, in the hope of removing obstacles that are often taken for granted elsewhere.

Our flagship 'Champions Initiative' scheme provides a vehicle for girls to take part in sport in a safe space, eat healthy meals, and receive assistance with school costs so that young people and families in our communities are less vulnerable to extreme choices.


Current UN estimates rank Africa highest among all regions of young people exposed to and/or in child labour - amounting to 72 million individuals. Recent studies by the University of Georgia and Liverpool show that a staggering 33% of children in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province have experienced trafficking before 18, and 36% have been subjected to child labour. 


Too many young girls are forced into early marriage, or sex work or are involved in hazardous activities such as mining, fishing, and domestic work. Development as a young person is vital and enshrined in law, with every child deserving the opportunity to go to school and access to nutrition regardless of circumstances . 


Girls in Sierra Leone already face palpable socio economic challenges, often exacerbated by trauma from violence, period poverty, and caregiving responsibilities, that can all be traced back to a climate of chronic underdevelopment. These have all been worsened by the structural impacts of the recent Ebola crisis, followed by COVID-19, and a brutal Civil War (better known as Sierra Leone's 'Blood Diamond' conflict').


The Champions Initiative provides girls with funding to help cover school costs, nutritious meals and a safe space to participate on the same platform as boys, in the hope that families are less likely to face decisions that remain an inconvenient truth in a modern world.


All girls should grow up enjoying their childhood and provision of education for the future.

To read more about the impact of modern slavery and human trafficking in our communities, we examine the issue further at 'Challenges for Girls'.



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