On the occasion of this year’s celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has raised concern about the threat and proneness of children falling into the dungeon of child labour.
The commemoration will therefore focus on the impact of the crisis on child labour, given that the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic and labour market shocks are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Consequently, the COVID-19 crisis has put millions of vulnerable children at the risk of being involved in child labour; there are already an estimated 152 million children in child labour worldwide, of which 73 million are engaged in hazardous work and are now facing even greater risk of including working longer hours.
The ILO launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Celebrated each year on June 12, the day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, school children, youth and women’s groups as well as the media to highlight the plight of child labourers and campaign against it.
The UN defines child labour as a work carried out “to the detriment and endangerment of a child, in violation of international law and national legislation”. This either deprives them of schooling or requires them to assume the dual burden of schooling and work. Around the world, an estimated 218 million children are engaged in one form of work or the other, many full-time. As a result, they do not go to school, have little or no time to play, and often do not receive proper nutrition or care.
Additionally, more than half of the children are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as working in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities like drug trafficking and prostitution as well as involvement in armed conflict. The commemoration is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of the ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.
Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls on the global community 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 recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”
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