At this very moment, in nearly every corner of the globe, millions of children are working in fields and in factories. Some of these children are slaves; many have never seen the inside of a classroom; few have a voice in standing up to exploitation and determining their futures.
But also at this very moment, all around the world, courageous and visionary people, companies, organizations, and governments are working to rescue, protect, and offer new hope and opportunity to these children.
If you know one of these heroes, I encourage you to submit a nomination for the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2015 Iqbal Masih Award.
This annual award honors the heroic legacy of Iqbal Masih, whose life was an example of courage, leadership, and integrity.
Iqbal Masih was just four years old when he was sold into slavery as a carpet weaver in Pakistan’s rug industry. He was chained to a carpet loom where he worked 14 hours a day and was barely given enough food to survive. Iqbal escaped when he was 10 years old and began speaking to children about their rights, helping to free many from slavery. In 1994, Iqbal received the Reebok Human Rights Award for his courageous efforts. But tragically at the age of 13, he was killed by an unknown gunman while riding his bike in his native Pakistan.
Since 2010, the Department of Labor has honored extraordinary work that embodies Iqbal’s spirit and values. Iqbal Masih Award recipients have made a powerful impact on the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Recent recipients include:
- George Achibra, a Ghanaian schoolteacher who rescued hundreds of trafficked children from dangerous fishing activities on the waters of Lake Volta;
- Isidro León-York, a Nicaraguan coffee producer who banned child labor on his coffee farm and funds a school for the children of his employees; and
- Tom Harkin, the Iowa Senator who devoted decades of his life to the cause of combating child labor worldwide.
The following video honors Senator Harkin – our most recent award winner – and outlines what this award is truly about.
If you know an individual, company, organization, or national government that has taken extraordinary steps to make a difference in the lives of children exploited for their labor, please submit a nomination by following the instructions here. Your nomination can help raise awareness and give recognition to these courageous and vital efforts. Nominations are due February 27.
If you would like to learn more about what we at the Department of Labor are doing to combat child labor, visit our website.