WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced the joint winners of the 2021 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor during a virtual ceremony.
Secretary Walsh presented awards to Norma Flores López and the International Labour Organization during a commemoration of the United Nation’s World Day Against Child Labour. Since 2009, the award has recognized exceptional efforts by an individual, company, organization or national government to end the worst forms of child labor. This year’s event comes amid heightened awareness of the UN’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
“Presenting the 2021 Iqbal Masih Award to Norma Flores López and the International Labour Organization recognizes their many accomplishments and commitment to ending child labor abuses,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Like this year’s honorees, the U.S. Department of Labor remains steadfast in its efforts to combat abusive child labor wherever it exists.”
For nearly 20 years, Flores López has been a leader in the fight to end exploitative child labor. She has led the Child Labor Coalition’s Domestic Issues Committee for the last decade in support of improved protections for child farmworkers and other vulnerable children. Her work on the committee has helped more than a dozen organizations leverage resources and engage in the fight against child labor.
The ILO has been a central figure in the global fight against child labor abuses since its October 1919 founding. The organization establishes international standards, collects critical data and conducts in-depth research. It operates in more than 90 countries to raise awareness, build capacity and bring hope to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and their families.
Established by the Secretary of Labor at the direction of Congress in 2008, the Iqbal Masih award honors its namesake – a Pakistani child sold into slavery as a carpet weaver at age 4 who escaped his captors at 10 – an outspoken public advocate against child exploitation for which he received numerous human rights awards. Tragically, he was killed in 1995 at the age of 12 in his native Pakistan.
Past recipients of the award include Damon Wamara of Uganda, Casa Esperanza of Panama, Stephanie Odegard of India, Teresa Martinez Acosta of Paraguay, Daphne de Guzman Culanag of the Philippines, Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic, Alain-Georges Moukoko of Gabon, Len Morris of the United States and Senator Tom Harkin of the United States.
Learn more about the bureau’s work.