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World Day Against Child Labour

The International Labour Organization (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. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.

What is Child Labour

Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or
  • interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

The worst forms of child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age. Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries.

SDGs and Child Labour

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour. Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals 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."

2020 theme: COVID-19: Protect children from child labour, now more than ever!

World Day Against Child Labour 2020 will focus on the impact of crisis on child labour. The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. The crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labour. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global economic and social crisis are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. For many children and their families, the fast-evolving situation means disrupted education, family illness and potential loss of household income. The absence of adequate social protection systems exacerbates the vulnerability of families – and hence their children.

Before the spread of COVID-19, almost 100 million children had been removed from child labour, bringing numbers down from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016; 73 million of whom are in hazardous work. Many children in child labour are now at greater risk of entering more hidden or hazardous forms of work or working longer hours. The crisis can also push millions of vulnerable children into child labour, having to contribute to family income at too young an age. Girls are particularly at risk of taking on additional domestic work or home care, and are likely to be more exposed to accidents and physical or sexual abuse.

Worst forms of child labour, including sexual exploitation, which primarily affects girls, often increases when job opportunities and family incomes are decreasing. Children from migrant families who have fled from conflicts and disasters, from extreme poverty or human rights violations, are much more affected. Inequality, social exclusion and discrimination, which are exacerbated by crises, make the situation even worse. This is particularly the case for indigenous people, ethnic minorities and internally displaced persons, people with disabilities, single headed households, and orphans.

Source : ILO



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