Southeast Asian Companies Need to Recommit to Protecting Children’s Rights

New report from Global Child Forum shows Southeast Asian companies score low on prevalence of child labour policies and highlights opportunities to build-back better post-pandemic.

  • Majority of Southeast Asian companies are lagging behind the global average in addressing children’s rights at a time when Covid-19 is exacerbating vulnerability of children.
  • Report does show a marked improvement across all sectors with the total average score increasing from 1.7 in 2016 to 3.1 out of 9 in 2020.
  • Report shows that only about half of the companies (51%) have child labour policies in place, significantly trailing the global average of 67%.
  • On average, scores indicate that companies do consider children as part of their community with a very high percentage of companies driving their own initiatives (83%), but there is room for improvement in terms of understanding children in relation to their core business.
  • Among eight sectors, the Apparel & Retail sector is the lowest performing (scoring 3.4 out of 10) and need to urgently address children’s rights in their operations, communities and supply chains with the Food, Beverage and Personal Care sector scoring the best.

Stockholm, Sweden – 16 March 2021

Stockholm-based Global Child Forum today announced the results of their regional benchmark, The State of Children’s Rights and Business in Southeast Asia 2020,  showing that Southeast Asian companies need to significantly accelerate the pace of positive change for children, especially as the impact of Covid-19 risksturning back progress on children’s rights in the region.

Read the full report and see the company list of scores here.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), analyzed 232 of the region’s largest companies, on how they report on addressing children’s rights . By bringing such information to light, companies in the region are able to recognise both the shortcomings and the opportunities that exist with regard to their impact on children’s lives. The report offers corporates, their stakeholders including investors, data-driven insights into thosecompanies that are movers in their sectors.  This is Global Child Forum’s second Southeast Asia regional benchmark since 2016.

“The whole world has suffered during the pandemic, and clearly it has had a devastating economic impact in Southeast Asia, with a significant toll on the region’s children,” says Cajsa Wiking, Global Child Forum’s Secretary General. “Since 2016 we have seen improvements in the region with regards to how business integrates children’s rights into their operations and communities. However, it is essential that respect for children’s rights is not de-prioritized at a time when risks, especially to children and vulnerable populations, are increasing.”

Emerging Leaders

Against this backdrop, several companies stand out as clear leaders in their respective sectors.  Singtel, one of the region’s leading Telecom providers, sees addressing children’s rights as part of its corporate social responsibility to promote safe and responsible digital citizenship, especially among vulnerable groups which include the youth. “We are pleased to be recognized in Global Child Forum’s benchmark for our efforts in safeguarding youth in the digital world,” says Andrew Buay, Singtel’s Vice President of Sustainability. “We want to help children and youth, who are the digital natives, to engage in their cyber world with greater confidence and develop safe online habits.  We believe there is an opportunity for the entire Telecom industry to embrace such a child-first focus.”

Key indicators of success

After nearly a decade benchmarking companies, Global Child Forum is able to articulate some of the key indicators that drive success both in terms of financial performance and societal contribution.  Their research has shown that in a study conducted in collaboration with BCG, leaders on children’s rights show correlation with higher profitability* making the benchmark data an important contribution to ESG investment analysis and decision-making.

Pandemic snapshot

While the report’s data assess companies’ disclosures pre-pandemic, in order to give the benchmark a more timely context, Global Child Forum commissioned a special report to provide a nuanced perspective pertaining to COVID-19 and children’s rights in the Southeast Asia. Read the full snapshot here.


Since 2014, Global Child Forum, in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), has benchmarked 2,600 companies globally. The studies are based on publicly available information, and the companies included are invited to comment on the results prior to publication. The indicators are based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principlesdeveloped by the UNICEF, Save the Children and the United Nations Global Compact. Additional details on the methodology are available here.

*A correlation analysis of the benchmark data was conducted by Global Child Forum in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, using data from Sustainalytics and Bureau van Dijk. Click here to read the analysis.

About Global Child Forum

Founded in 2009 by the Swedish Royal Family, Global Child Forum is a leading forum for children’s rights and business dedicated to innovative thinking, knowledge-sharing and networking. Global Child Forum believes in the power and responsibility of business, working in partnership with all parts of society, to create a prosperous, sustainable and just society for the world’s children. In addition to forums, Global Child Forum delivers research perspectives, best practices and risk assessment tools designed to unlock opportunities for business to integrate children’s rights into their operations and communities. For more information, please visit:

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