Child labour deprives children of their right to education, expose them to violence and reinforce intergenerational cycles of poverty. With this article, I hope to empower more people with knowledge and hope they’ll join in the fight to stop child labour from continuing.
1. 168 million children are affected by child labour
It is estimated that there are about 168 million children aged 5 to 17 that are engaged in child labour, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). These children are found in hazardous situations such as working in mines, in agriculture with chemicals and pesticides, or with dangerous machinery. Some also work as domestic servants in homes, workshops, plantations and more.
2. Children are still threatened by slavery
It is still some of the worst forms of child labour, with some being forced into becoming child soldiers and forced into sexual exploitation in prostitution and pornography, made to engage in criminal activities such as the drug trade.
3. Children caught in emergencies are usually exploited
Child labour happens in almost every continent – Asia and the Pacific having the highest numbers and the Sub-Saharan Africa with the highest incidences according to the ILO. During emergencies or crises, children tend to be exploited, such as when Syrian refugee children are forced to work in companies and on farms in Jordan, or in garment factories in Turkey as their families struggle to get by.
4. Instances of child labour are decreasing
Since 2000, child labour has been declining. With UNICEF working with governments, businesses, civil society and communities, child protection systems have improved access to quality education, thus slowly eliminating child labour.
5. Education is extremely important
By providing safe, accessible and high-quality education, families are encouraged to send working children to school. But first, this begins with education programmes for working children who must acknowledge that these children often provide essential income to their families. With classes designed around the schedules of working children, the financial security of their family will not be jeopardized.
6. The world has pledge to end child labour by 2025
In 2015, UN member states adopted 17 Global Goals for sustainable development which includes a goal to end all forms of forced labour, modern slavery and child labour by 2025. By elimination child labour, the problem with poverty will be addressed, economies will be strengthened and education, health and protection systems will be greatly improved.
7. Canada has joined the fight against child labour
Canada has endorsed ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, and has set the minimum age for work at 15 and prohibits hazardous work for young workers. This marks an important step in eliminating child labour, prioritising education and ensuring appropriate employment for young people. Now, young Canadians also have the right to protection from unsafe work, or work that interferes with school, rest, and healthy development whilst balancing the benefits of work.
8. Communities are big decision makers
The problem of child labour begins and ends with communities. UNICEF helps communities in changing their cultural acceptance of child labour whilst supporting strategies and programmes that provide alternative income to families, access to child care, quality education, and protective services.
9. Companies play a vital role
The private sector plays an important role in eliminating child labour. This includes instituting legal supply chains and business ethics, providing proper work for young workers, and ensuring the protection and safety of children. Companies can adopt the Children’s Rights and Business Principles to respect and support children’s rights.
10. YOU, yourself, can make a difference
If you want to make a difference and join the fight against child labour, you can start by becoming an ethical consumer to sending a child to school via this UNICEF programme, or even supporting UNICEF in tackling the issue straight from its source.
Header image source from here.