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The Music Against Child Labour Initiative (MACLI) was launched in 2013 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI), the International Federation of Musician (FIM), the Simon Bolivar Music Foundation “El Sistema” and a host of international music figures. The initiative calls upon musicians, bands, ensembles, orchestras and choirs to dedicate concerts and songs to the fight against child labour. By doing so we are raising awareness around one of the most important issues of our time and reaching audiences otherwise not reached.

The MACLI also advocates for the strengthening of quality music education as a means to protect children from child labour by engaging socially excluded children and by making schools more attractive and retentive.

The MACLI supports Alliance 8.7, which calls on partners to work together to achieve Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030 and eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025.

To reaffirm global commitment and foster efforts, the United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour and has invited the ILO to take the lead in its implementation.


The Competition


This competition is being organised and run by the JM International, in collaboration with the ILO in the framework of the CLEAR Cotton project (“CLEAR Cotton - Elimination of child labour and forced labour in the cotton, textile and garment value chains: An integrated approach”) that is co-funded by the European Union and the ILO. 

Participants are invited to submit a song on the theme of child labour (recent or new composition). Participating in the competition is an opportunity to raise awareness about child labour and the importance of music and creativity in the lives of children. 

Participation in this competition is completely voluntary. Should artists choose to submit a song in support of the cause, they maintain author/composer rights and are expected to register their own songs with their copyright/performance rights society/organisation. Artists can upload their song to any platform and monetise as they see fit, and they will own the recording of their video/audio. The MACLI has the right to share artists’ submissions for free on its platforms (website, social media channels, events), but it will always be shared from the artists’ channels. 
If an artist’s song is not already on a platform, the artist has the right to choose which platform to broadcast it from (YouTube is recommended).

Who can participate?

The competition is open to both professional and amateur musicians from all over the world. Submissions from musicians aged 15 and above and of all formations (up to a maximum group number of 6) are welcome. Contributions from different genres are equally valued - soul or song-writing, highlife or hip-hop, folk, jazz, rock or tango, classical music of every tradition and every type of music besides! Only original songs will be accepted, including songs already composed in 2019-20, as well as new compositions from the date of the competition’s announcement.



The competition will be held at the global and national levels and will have 3 categories: Two of them are at the global level and the third category is at the national level in the CLEAR Cotton project countries.

1.  Global category

Under this category, the song can be about child labour in general or a specific type of child labour.

2.  Grassroots category

Under this category, the song should be part of a project to empower children and give them a voice through music. The project could include children who at risk of or who were formerly in child labour.

Note that while the artist coordinating the project should be aged 15 or above, for this category, the singers can be of all ages.

3. CLEAR Cotton project category

Taking place in the CLEAR Cotton project countries only: Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru.

There will be special prizes for songs highlighting the issue of child labour in these national contexts. The CLEAR Cotton project combats child labour in Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru by supporting the efforts of governments, social partners and the cotton sector actors at the national level and by empowering communities and stakeholders. By reintegrating children into the education system, the project offers them a future without child labour. By training their parents in more efficient production techniques in collaboration with the FAO, it enables them to not have to rely on child labour anymore. By supporting national and local partnerships, it ensures a coordinated action against child labour. As such, the project works closely with public authorities, social partners, cooperatives of producers, and other actors, which are the guarantors of the sustainability of the efforts to eliminate child labour. For more information, see here:

To submit a song for this category, artists must be linked to these countries (nationality, organization based in the country...).

How to participate?


The song can be submitted as a video or audio clip, along with a transcript of the lyrics. The song can be in any language, however, work submitted in languages other than English, French or Spanish should be submitted with a transcript of both the original language and a translation in English, French or Spanish.

The song should be submitted online via Mubazar ( by 12 April 2021 at the latest and should be accompanied by a short author biography and description of the song or project, if part of a project to empower children through music (1-page maximum).

How are the entries judged?


A preliminary screening of the songs submitted will be carried out by the competition’s artistic and technical jury. The shortlisted songs will be evaluated by our celebrity ambassadors.


The following criteria will be adopted in evaluating the songs:

1.  Relevance of the lyrics*

2.  Inclusion of a call to action highlighting collective efforts/positive message of hope about what can be done to tackle child labour

3.  Originality of the song

4.  Creativity

* To be considered for the CLEAR Cotton project Award, the applicant songs must be related to the CLEAR Cotton project interventions.


The decision of the jury will be announced by the end of April.

What are the prizes?


Each winning artist/group will receive the following prizes:


Under the global and grassroots categories

- A cash prize of 1,000 Euros

- A live video recording of your song to be streamed at the 2021 World Day Against Child Labour event

Under the CLEAR Cotton countries category (for each country):

- A cash prize of 500 Euros

- A live video recording of your song to be streamed at the CLEAR Cotton Project events and other occasions.


The recorded music videos will also be promoted on the MACLI ( and ILO websites and social media channels.



Music Against Child Labour Manifesto

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