Cartoon competition on forced labour

What if your pencil was a tool against forced labour?

Discover the beautiful cartoons that won the
ILO – RHSF cartoon competition on forced labour


1st Place

Gargalo Vasco, Portugal

His cartoon was selected for its powerful message and beautiful depiction of the way forced labour affects the entire world, while being hidden from our eyes. No region, no economic sectors is exempt of forced labour, and we all have a role to play to end it.

“Drawing is my way of expressing my opinion and making people reflect about social and political issues. Forced labour and child labour are part of my agenda, as we live in such an unfair world and these issues are often unseen,” Vasco said.

Learn more about the artist’s vision and work in his interview (forthcoming).


2nd Place


Javad Takjoo, Iran

This cartoon illustrates the plight of many children trapped in forced labour, who spend their childhood toiling away instead of growing and playing in a safe environment. It is an echo to the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour – as forced labour of children is one of the worst forms of child labour.


Cartooning for Peace’s pick

Eshonkulov Makhmudjon, Uzbekistan

“I believe the role of cartoons in solving problems is incomparable, because caricature does not choose the language; any nation can understand what is drawn”, Eshonkulov told us. Cartooning for Peace explained their choice by the way this cartoon combined “graphic simplicity and great effectiveness in the message sent”.


Public’s pick


Kaan Saatci, Turkey

“Forced labour is a huge problem and I’m glad to take a part in such a good cause. Forced labour should no longer exists.”, said Kaan, who was chosen by the public on the ILO Instagram page. “A cartoon conveys a message but the viewer is the one who receives it, so sometimes being a cartoonist is about poking the beehive to alarm the bees against the bear.”


Thematic distinctions


The ILO and RHSF chose to distinguish the following cartoons to acknowledge the way they succeeded in highlighting a specific theme related to forced labour.

Special distinction “Supply Chains”

Maarten Wolterink (Netherlands)


Global supply chains have the potential to generate growth, employment, skill development and technological transfer. Nevertheless, consumers may not be aware that forced labour cases have been identified in global supply chains of many commodities and at each tier.



Special distinction “Education” 

Shahrokh Heidari (Iran)

Quality and accessible education and training is one of the most efficient tool to prevent forced labour and ensure access to decent work opportunities for vulnerable workers and populations.


Special distinction “Taking action”

Nath Paresh (India)


If we want to reach Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate forced labour by 2030, it is urgent to act now to prevent forced labour, protect victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.


Honourable mentions


The competition’s jury distinguished the following cartoons for their compelling portraits of the complex and invisible issue that is forced labour.

Hira Kazmi (Pakistan)

Osman Suroglu (Turkey)


Chris Rutaysire (Rwanda)

Matías Tejeda (Argentina)


Pilar Parra (Spain)


You can also visit the Flickr album with all distinguished cartoons.


About the ILO-RHSF cartoon competition on forced labour

There are still 25 million men, women and children in forced labour today. As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, vulnerable workers and populations are at a greater risk of being trapped in forced labour. We all have a role to play to prevent forced labour and put an end to it.

In 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Human Resources Without Borders (RHSF), in partnership with Cartooning for Peace, co-organised a cartoon competition to raise awareness, inspire action and emphasize the urgent need to eradicate this severe violation of human rights.

Cartoons are powerful tools: they can make complex messages understandable without using words and encourage people to reflect on sensitive topics. They can make us REFUSE, UNDERSTAND and TAKE ACTION against forced labour.

Learn more about the competition’s background and rules here.


More than 200 cartoonists from 65 countries took on the challenge of representing the invisible and complex realities of forced labour, submitting over 460 cartoons. Using diverse graphic styles and techniques, cartoonists delivered powerful messages that challenge us and encourage reflection.

The cartoons were judged by a prestigious jury made up of experts from the Alliance 8.7, activists and former victims of exploitation, as well as representatives of the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organisation of Employers, the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour, the US Department of  Labor, the ILO and RHSF. Special awards were also attributed by Cartooning for Peace and the public.



The best cartoons will be featured in a travelling exhibition and a publication to shine a light on the invisible and unknown realities of forced labour, to be released in the fall of 2021.


Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-27592-15-75-K—1. 100 percentage of the total costs of the Bridge Project is financed with Federal funds, for a total of US$17,395,138. This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.


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