Music Against Child Labour Competition 2021

Driving engagement through music

  • 6 months ago


The Music Against Child Labour Initiative is a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), JM International (JMI), the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the Simon Bolivar Music Foundation “El Sistema” and a host of international music figures. Launched in 2013, it brings together musicians to raise awareness of child labour and empower children, including children formerly in child labour, through music.


In the framework of the UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, JMI and the ILO teamed up in 2021 to launch the Music Against Child Labour Competition. From February to April, we invited musicians from around the planet to create songs to inspire action and eliminate child labour, which affects nearly 1 in 10 children worldwide.


Musicians could submit their competition entries to one of three categories: a global category for all artists; a grassroots category for music projects involving children affected by child labour; and a CLEAR Cotton project category for national competitions run in Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru, where the project works with partners to combat child labour and forced labour in the cotton, textile and garment value chains.


The competition received entries from over 50 countries in all world regions, submitting more than 200 songs. A panel of experts shortlisted the best 15 entries based on musical quality, relevance, song originality, and the inclusion of a call to action. Entries were then reviewed and judged by the following renowned artists:

  • A.R. Rahman, Grammy and Academy Award-winning musician, and composer (India)
  • Laura Pausini, Grammy and Golden Globe Award-winning singer and songwriter, Oscar nominee (Italy)
  • Ralph Johnson, Grammy Award-Winning musician, composer, and founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire (USA)
  • Juan Diego Flórez, Awarded international opera singer and philanthropist (Peru)
  • Lokua Kanza, Internationally renowned songwriter, composer, and producer (the Democratic Republic of the Congo)


The official winners of the 2021 Music Against Child Labour competition as decided by the celebrity jury were:

  • Global Category: Bernice, from Burkina Faso, with her song Mpa koss yé (J’ai pas demandé).
  • Grassroots Category: MCAZ Students band, from Zimbabwe, with their song Vana Ava (Children).


The Celebrity Jury also selected the competition’s CLEAR Cotton winners. This award category was open to songs from Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan and Peru, highlighting issues concerning cotton production. The 2021 MACL CLEAR Cotton winners were:

  • Clear Cotton Burkina Faso: Téné Bénédicte Ouedraogo, aka. Benewend, with the song Je suis qu'un enfant (I'm only a child).
  • Clear Cotton Mali: Virginie Dembélé with the song Espoir (Hope).
  • Clear Cotton Pakistan: Ahmed Faraz with the song Faryad (Complaint).
  • Clear Cotton Peru: Josè Zevallos del Carpio with the song Voy a pintar un niño (I will paint a child).


Winners' awards included a cash prize, a professional music-video recording of their song, and the opportunity to be part of global and national World Day Against Child Labour events in June 2021.


Check out the final wrap up video of the competition!