World Day Against Child Labor 2019: Child Labor Reinforces Inequality for Girls

Many girls enter the workforce at an early age, commonly ending up in the lowest paid and insecure work, constrained by gender inequality at home and in the workplace. Moreover many working in the home remain invisible and unaccounted for. The patterns of inequality are also reflected in education outcomes with 64 per cent of illiterate adults being women.

Children Shouldn’t Work in Fields, But on Dreams!
 
In 2019, the International Labour Organization is celebrating 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. 

Yet today, 152 million children are still in child labour. Child labour occurs in almost all sectors, yet 7 out of every 10 of these children are working in agriculture.

Towards the Urgent Elimination of Hazardous Child Labour

About 73 million children are in hazardous work – almost half of the 152 million children aged 5 to 17 still in child labour. These children are toiling in mines and fields, factories and homes, exposed to pesticides and other toxic substances, carrying heavy loads or working long hours. Many suffer lifelong physical and psychological consequences. Their very lives can be at risk.

No child under the age of 18 should perform hazardous work as stipulated in the ILO’s Conventions on child labour, namely the
Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)  and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) . They require governments, in consultation with the social partners, to establish and enforce a national list of hazardous work prohibited for children. Ratification of these Conventions by 171 and 181 ILO member States respectively – close to universal ratification – reflects a commitment to end child labour in all its forms. It is time to step up action.

An  ILO report, Towards the Urgent Elimination of Hazardous Child Labour , finds that certain occupational hazards, including exposure to psychological stress and to commonly-used chemicals, are even more serious for children than previously thought.

Another key finding is that adolescence, as a period of physical maturation, may start earlier and last into the mid-twenties. Within this extended period of growth, children (and young adults), face a range of vulnerabilities that require responses in law and practice.

The report outlines the crucial and mutual link between education and health: lack of education increases the risk of negative health outcomes from work and conversely, quality education has positive and protective effects on health.

Although the overall number of children in hazardous work has decreased over the past years, progress has been limited to older children in hazardous work. Between 2012 and 2016, there was almost no reduction in the number of children aged 5 to 11 in child labour, and the number of these most vulnerable, youngest children in hazardous work actually increased. This is unacceptable.

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda  reaffirms the urgency of eliminating the worst forms of child labour, which includes hazardous work, the need to promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, and sets the target of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. If we are to keep the solemn promises we have made to the world’s children, we must, once and for all, “turn off the tap” and stop children from entering child labour in the first place many of whom, especially in agriculture, commonly start when they are six, seven or eight years old. On this World Day Against Child Labour will look back on progress achieved over a 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labour. We will also look forward towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 set by the international community calling for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025.
This year, the World Day Against Child Labour will look back on progress achieved over a 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labour. Since its founding in 1919, the protection of children has been embedded in the ILO’s Constitution (Preamble) . One of the first Conventions adopted by the ILO was on Minimum Age in Industry (No. 5, 1919).
“It is the exploitation of childhood which constitutes the evil… most unbearable to the human heart. Serious work in social legislation begins always with the protection of children.” Albert Thomas, the first ILO Director
On this World Day, we will also look forward towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 set by the international community calling for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025. In support of Alliance 8.7 , we call for immediate action to address the remaining challenges so that the world community can get firmly on track towards eliminating child labour. A newly released ILO report  points the way with policy approaches and responses.
2019 marks 20 years since the adoption of the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) . With only a few countries still to ratify, this Convention is close to universal ratification. On this World Day we call for full ratification and implementation of Convention No. 182 and of the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) . We also encourage ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, which protects both adults and children.
The World Day Against Child Labour is widely supported by governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, UN agencies, and many others who are concerned with tackling child labour. We would like to invite you and your organization to be part of the World Day. Join us and add your voice to the worldwide movement against child labour. For more information, contact childlabour@ilo.org .

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