Sofie Ovaa

No child should work. Every child has a right to education, to play and to enjoy his or her childhood. From this conviction, Sofie Ovaa works already for more than 15 years to improve the situation of vulnerable children world-wide.

Sofie: “A world without child labour is possible if everyone abides by these principles. By working together, seemingly insurmountable challenges such poverty and inadequate and inaccessible education can be overcome.”

Sofie studied cultural anthropology at the University of Utrecht and the Complutense University of Madrid. During her studies Sofie conducted research in Bolivia into migration flows from rural areas to the capital of La Paz and living conditions of children and their families in slum areas. She also lived three years in Guatemala where she did additional research into surival strategies of street children and worked for different organizations dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of these children.

In 2003 she returned to the Netherlands to follow an Advanced Master in Development Studies at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. In the same year she joined Hivos. This was when Stop Child Labour came into existence. At the moment she is the international programme manager of Stop Child Labour.

Looking back at how far the coalition has come, Sofie says, “It has been very inspiring and rewarding to see how we grew from a European campaign with one partner organization in India into a worldwide program with partner organizations implementing Child Labour Free Zones in many different contexts. We’ve seen lots of positive changes, including in many areas of social-economic development. And in the last five to six years alone, we’ve managed to get 63,000 children out of work into school. This is very promising. Now new generations of children will be able to enjoy their childhood and follow the path of education laid out for them.”