Child labor is a unavoidable consequence of povertybut we cannot resign ourselves to its existence, said Monday the director general of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, on the opening day of an international conclave to discuss how to end this universal ballast.
For five days from today, delegates from all countries participate in person or virtually in the 5th World Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor, which takes place in Durban, South Africa.
According to the most recent data from the ILO, there are currently in the world some 160 million working childrenthat is, one in ten of the total global child population.
the alarming number is increasing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated inequality and shortages, especially in the poorest families. This trend – accentuated in the age group from five to eleven years – threatens to reverse years of progress.
Given this scenario, the Conference began with a call for urgent action to combat this scourge.
Guy Ryder insisted that child labor should not be accepted under no circumstances.
“We must not do it. The essential is address root causessuch as household poverty”, he stressed.
The ILO reported that in the last four years, 8.4 million children joined minors who work and warned that millions more are at risk of following them as a result of the crisis generated by COVID-19.
In this sense, the speakers at the Conference highlighted the urgent need to recover the advances that had been achieved in many regions before the health emergencyalluding to the agreed goal of eradicating this scourge by 2025.
The disaggregated figures show that the largest increase occurred among children five to eleven years, which at the moment constitute more than half of all child labor cases.
As for children between the ages of five and 17 who perform hazardous work, the number increased by 6.5 millionto reach 79 million.
Violation of a human right
“Child labor is the violation of a basic human right, and our goal must be that all children, everywhere, be free of the. We cannot rest until that happens,” Ryder stressed.
Present at the opening of the Conference was the South African President, Cyril Rhamaphosa, who asked the delegates undertake “far-reaching” actions” to make a difference in children’s lives.
“Child labor in all its facets is an enemy. Is a enemy of our children’s development and an enemy of progress. No civilization, no country, and no economy can be considered to be at the forefront of progress if its success and wealth have been built on the backs of children.”
Where do the children work?
- The agricultural sector represents 70% of children in child labor (112 million), followed by services with 20% (31.4 million) and industry with 10% percent (16.5 million)
- Almost 28% of children between the ages of five and eleven and 35% of those between the ages of twelve and 14 in child labor They do not go to school
- child labor is more common among boys than girls, regardless of age. If housework performed for 21 hours or more per week is taken into account, the gender gap is reduced
- child labor in rural areas (14%) is almost three times more frequent than in urban areas (5%)
Implications of work on children
Children in child labor are at risk of physical and mental harm. Child labor undermines their education, restricts their rights, limits their future opportunities, and leads to vicious intergenerational cycles of poverty and more child labour.
To prevent child labor from gaining ground, the ILO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), recommend concrete actions What:
- foster a adequate social protection for all that includes universal child benefits
- increase spending on a free education and of qualityand facilitate the return of all children to school, including those who were out of school before the COVID-19 pandemic
- promote the decent work for adultswith the aim that families do not have to resort to the help of their children to generate family income
- Place an end to ineffective gender norms and discrimination that promote child labor
- Invest in child protection systemsthe development of the agricultural sector, rural public services, infrastructure and livelihoods
The 5th World Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor will conclude with a “Durban Call to Action”, which will draw the commitments to move towards the elimination of such abuse against children.