Telecoms Industry Can Collaborate to Tackle Child Rights, Says Millicom

Millicom, the emerging market telecommunications company, in collaboration with UNICEF, has developed a new tool to help conduct self-assessments using the global Children’s Rights and Business Principles. Millicom believes that the tool could achieve industry-wide adoption in the future and has launched a consultation inviting wider collaboration.

The new Child Rights Impact Assessment tool has been designed specifically for mobile operators. It aims to enable businesses to assess how their activities might impact children directly or indirectly, covering issues that include child online protection, child labour within the distribution of SIMs and scratch cards, extracting valuables from e-waste and safeguarding children from accessing potentially dangerous network infrastructure. The self-evaluation also includes assessing more traditional business issues such as child rights in the supply chain, the treatment of employees with families, and management of security forces.

“We would encourage all telecommunication operators to integrate child rights considerations into their business policies and management systems.  This commitment would significantly help to identify and address their impact on children and the communities where they live” said Andres Franco, Deputy Director, Private Sector Engagement, UNICEF.  “The telecommunication’s industry touches the lives of children every day.  With this new tool, companies all around the world can carry out a self-assessment of their child rights responsibilities and take the steps needed to protect children and improve their well-being.”

Milka Pietikainen, VP Corporate Responsibility at Millicom said: “The Children’s Rights and Business Principles relate to every sector and industry in a different way. This tool focuses on issues material to mobile network operators, and is based on the experience of Millicom applying a child rights lens to our operations. This more focused tool has helped us to quickly get a view of potential gaps and opportunities. The ICT sector has a lot to contribute to child rights which is why we hope that our peer companies will review the tool from their perspective and provide feedback to the final version. Our aspiration is that our industry can work together to take the lead on child rights.”

Natasha Jackson, Head of Consumer Affairs, GSMA said: “The GSMA congratulates UNICEF and Millicom on piloting this self-assessment tool for mobile operators to measure how their operations are impacting child rights – from child online protection considerations to HR policies – and warmly encourages its members to join the consultation process over the coming weeks.”

The consultation period will involve the wider telecoms industry and will last until the end of February. The final Mobile Operator Child Rights Impact Assessment Tool will be launched in March 2016.