Children under 18 years old account for almost one third of the world’s population and in many countries, children and youth make up almost one half of the national population. Children are among the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society and are rarely consulted about how communities make decisions affecting them directly.
Business, whether small or large, interacts with and impacts the lives of children both directly and indirectly. Children are key stakeholders of business – as consumers, family members of employees, young workers, and as future employees and business leaders. At the same time, children are key members of the communities and environments in which business operates. There is a diversity of ways in which business affects children. Business can impact the lives of children through their products and services, supply chains, marketing methods and distribution practices, as well as through their investments in local communities.
Children’s rights are human rights. Safeguarding these rights helps build the strong, well-educated communities that are vital to creating a stable, inclusive and productive business environment. Respecting and supporting children’s rights engages business in both preventing harm, for instance by eliminating child labour, and actively safeguard children’s interests in their workplaces, marketplaces and communities. By integrating respect and support for children’s rights into their core strategies and operations, companies can strengthen their existing sustainability initiatives while generating benefits for their business. Such efforts can build reputation, improve risk management and secure their social license to operate. Considering how products and services can better meet children’s needs can also be a source of innovation and help create new markets. Furthermore, promoting youth employment, for those above the minimum age of employment helps ensure that the next generation has the skills a business needs to prosper and conditions to make stable and productive societies. To learn more about how companies can respect and support the rights of children, see the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBPs), a joint initiative of UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact.