United Nations, June12: Today is the World Day Against child Labour, the day to bring world’s attention to an important issue still prevalent worldwide, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. Since it was launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), each year on June 12, it brings together governments, employers, workers organizations, civil societies and millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and the action and efforts to eliminate it. This year’s theme for World Day Against Child Labour is “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!”
Yet today, 152 million children are still in child labour worldwide. They do not go to school and have little or no time to play. Many do not receive proper nutrition or care. Shockingly, most of the children working as labourers are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environment, slavery or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities like drug trafficking or prostitution. As per the UN report, the greatest level of child labour is found in agricultural sector.
One of the major aims set for the ILO at its founding in 1919 was the abolition of child labour. Convention No. 138 of the ILO provides that the minimum age for admission to employment shall not be less than the age of the completion of compulsory schooling. The ILO’s Convention No. 182 adopted in 1999 consolidated the global consensus on child labour elimination. This year, the ILO celebrates its 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour.
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.”
However, the problem of child labour should not be looked at as ‘child labour’ only but all the social, economic, cultural and political factors must be taken into consideration to root out the problem. The biggest push-factor for child labour is poverty. To earn bread and butter, children in poor families have no option but to work. On the other hand, children are easily absorbed by industries because they are ‘cheap’. Hence, Poverty elimination is a prerequisite to overcome the challenge of child labour.