…as 152 million children affected
JUSTINA EMMANUEL OKPARA
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has disclosed that the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has worsened the rate of child labour even though it had decreased by 38 per cent in the last decade with 152 million children still affected.
In a statement signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, COVID-19 pandemic has considerably worsened the situation, adding that joint and decisive action can reverse this trend.
Similarly, the ILO, in collaboration with the Alliance 8.7 global partnership, is launching the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour , to encourage legislative and practical actions to eradicate child labour worldwide.
According to the statement, the international year was unanimously adopted in a UN General Assembly resolution in 2019. A main aim of the year is to urge governments to do what is necessary to achieve Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ryder said: “Target 8.7 asks Member States to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 to end child labour in all its forms.
“A virtual event will take place on 21 January to launch the International Year. A range of stakeholders will take part, including the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, the Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi and child labour survivor and activist, Amar Lal.
“Throughout the year a number of events will raise awareness of a problem that affects one in 10 children.
“The joint initiative encourages regional, national and organizational stakeholders and individuals to identify concrete actions that they will take by December 2021, to help end child labour. The deadline to submit these Action Pledges is 30 March. Pledge makers are invited to document their efforts and progress throughout the year, through videos, interviews, blogs and impact stories.
“In the last 20 years almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour, bringing numbers down from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016.”
“There is no place for child labour in society. It robs children of their future and keeps families in poverty.”
However, progress across regions is uneven. Almost half of child labour happens in Africa (72 million children), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million). 70 per cent of children in child labour work in agriculture, mainly in subsistence and commercial farming and livestock herding. Almost half of all these children work in occupations or situations considered hazardous for their health and lives.
ILO report said the COVID-19 crisis had brought additional poverty to these already vulnerable populations and may reverse years of progress in the fight against child labour. “School closures have aggravated the situation and many millions of children are working to contribute to the family income. The pandemic has also made women, men and children more vulnerable to exploitation.
“There is no place for child labour in society,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “It robs children of their future and keeps families in poverty. This International Year is an opportunity for governments to step up and achieve Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals by taking concrete actions to eliminate child labour for good. With COVID-19 threatening to reverse years of progress, we need to deliver on promises now more than ever.”
Ryder added: “The International Year will prepare the ground for the V Global Conference on Child Labour (VGC) that will take place in South Africa in 2022, where stakeholders will share experiences and make additional commitments towards ending child labour in all its forms by 2025, and forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030.
“The ILO has been working for the abolition of child labour throughout its 100 year-history. One of the first Conventions its members adopted was on Minimum Age in Industry.
“The organisation is a partner of Alliance 8.7, a global partnership that aims to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour around the world, as outlined the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”