The World Day against Child Labour represents the collective and ongoing global support to the children who find themselves bound in labour systems
The World Day against Child Labour is a hallmark for international efforts focused on ending child labour. Observed on June 12, this year the day is even more significant as 2021 was declared as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour in 2019. Substantial strides were expected to be made to eliminate the problem.
On the agenda of the United Nations (UN) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the assessment of the progress made over the last five years, the release of new statistics, and plans for the future to meet the goal of ending child labour by 2025. The latest initiative of the UN and the ILO dedicated to ending child labour - called Alliance 8.7 - is accelerating progress to meet the said goals.
This day highlights the plight of child labour globally. It is consequential not only because of its contribution to raising awareness but also because of how it helps streamline, track and plan progress. This year new statistics will be released pertaining to 2016-2020 by the ILO and the UNICEF on global estimates and trends on child labour. Moreover, a thorough assessment of the previous year’s progress towards the main goal will be done which, so far, is expected to have slowed down. Over the last decade, the number of children trapped in labour decreased 38 percent as noted by Alliance 8.7. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty levels globally resulting in an economic crisis that threatens the progress previously made and
hinders the current efforts.
At the forefront of this fight is the ILO whose efforts have been influential. Created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, it was founded on the umbrella principle of ‘social justice’ with a primary focus on worker rights. It has advocated for the elimination of child labour throughout its century-long history and is only making its advocacy stronger. The ILO’s long list of efforts directed towards this cause includes its Minimum Age Convention No 138, the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No 182, and the ILO Programme on Child Labour (IPEC). All of them have paved the way for achieving the effective and permanent abolition of child labour.
Aiding ILO’s efforts are United Nations’ sustainable development goals, particularly target 8.7 which calls for complete elimination of child labour by 2025. To that end, Alliance 8.7 is an organisation created as a catalyst that sets into motion the plans and actions taken to meet the UN’s SDGs. ILO has been appointed to facilitate the organisation to maximise the impact and organise coordinated efforts between global stakeholders.
However, this fight is not entirely the responsibility of global stakeholders; nor can they win it by themselves. Alliance 8.7 encourages individuals to play their part. To implement 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, relevant organisations suggest that people: write to a decision-maker, raise funds for a relevant charity and educate themselves on the matter and share their knowledge with others. According to the UN, almost 10 percent of children are still a part of child labour settings.
To implement 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, relevant organisations suggest that people: write to a decision-maker, raise funds for a relevant charity and educate themselves on the matter and sharing their knowledge with others.
Beate Andrees, chief of the ILO’s Fundamentals Principles and Rights at Work Branch remarked, “... the decision by the General Assembly to declare 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour will be a great help in focusing attention on the millions of girls and boys still toiling in the fields, in the mines and in factories.” The World Day against Child Labour also represents the collective and ongoing global support to the children who find themselves bound in labour systems. When the world focuses on this issue on June 12, greater action is taken which has the potential to change the entire course of young lives.
Positive results have been witnessed following the recent efforts. Millions of children have been taken out of child labour and given a chance at a bright future. Hazardous workplaces have been replaced by proper schooling and millions of children have benefitted from the awareness raised through celebrating this day. Alliance 8.7 has noted that almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour over the past 20 years.
Moreover, if global media trends have taught us one lesson, it is that the people now hold the greatest power. This day encourages people, organisations and stakeholders to take part in finding and building solutions.
June 12 is also an effort to turn the roving eye of global governance towards the plight of almost 152 million children still labouring. It is frightening to know that at this very moment millions of young children around the world are toiling. Their futures are as bleak as the night they spend doing hard work, away from home and warmth.
Child labour remains one of the most pressing issues we face as a global community. This year’s reports will largely determine whether UN’s SDG 8.7, ending child labour by 2025, is a feasible and realistic one or not.
ILO reports that an estimated 22,000 children are killed annually in workplaces. Amidst this mass of hopelessness, exploitation and trauma lie practical solutions that save young lives. Do your part by researching, donating and advocating to the best of your ability and ensure that others are doing theirs too.
The writer is an English literature student at LUMS