By signing the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the world leaders are committed to achieving 17 goals and 169 targets of Sustainable Development. The SDG 8.7 on decent work for all has its targets to be accomplished. These include eradicating forced labor, ending modern slavery and human trafficking, eliminating the worst of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and ending child labor in all its forms by 2025.
The endeavor to end child labor by 2025 is still far away. A global report recently released by ILO, UNICEF, and Alliance 8.7 estimates that 160 million children were in child labor globally in 2020 or 1 in 10 children worldwide. The report shows a shadow figure of child labor that the world is facing today. Seventy-nine million children, almost half of those in child labor – were in risky work that directly threatens their health, safety, and moral development. Since 2017 the number of child labor has increased by nearly 9 million. The COVID-19 pandemic and its huge impacts on the unprecedented economic crisis could make the child labor situation getting worse.
International Labor Organization estimates a further 8.9 million children will be in child labor by the end of 2022 unless we don’t take urgent and necessary actions to address the issue.
Global Campaign to End Child Labor
The United Nations has dedicated 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. The international community will need to address the challenge driven by COVID-19 in tackling child labor and in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 to eliminate child labor by 2025. Concrete actions need to be taken more than ever, particularly in Sub-Sharan Africa, where the highest prevalence of child labor is taking place.
By envisioning “a world without child labor,” the world community collectively endeavors to end child labor by 2025. For this purpose, ILO suggest the following approaches and responses: (a) Advancing the legal commitment to child labor elimination and the central role of social dialogue; (b) Promoting decent work for adults and youth of legal working age, primarily through addressing information; (c) Building and extending social protection systems, including floors, to mitigate the economic vulnerability of households; (d) Expanding access to free, quality public education as the logical alternative to child labor; (e) Addressing child labor in supply chains and protecting children in situations of fragility and crisis.
Child labor is a human rights issue. Children’s rights, therefore, must be placed at the center of economic and social policy. Children’s rights to quality education, healthcare, social protection, an adequate standard of living, and their voices to be heard in the decision-making processes that affect them are fundamental to their right to be free from child labor.
By tackling the root causes of poverty and protecting children’s rights, the world community can get back on track toward eliminating child labor as the world leaders have promised. The International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor offers an excellent opportunity to strengthen and expand multilateral cooperation and partnerships between governments, regional and international organizations, the private sector, trade unions, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, research, and academic institutions to end child labor.
VIVAT International is part of the endeavor to eliminate Child Labor. The New York VIVAT Team was present at launching the global report of child labor held by ILO and UNICEF in June and attended the child labor conference at the HLPF side-event on SDGs in July. VIVAT also proposed to include the issue in the second draft of the Ministerial Declaration. The UN members states adopted the HLPF Ministerial Declaration by acclamation, which supports the prohibition and elimination of Child Labor (link: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/ document/28939Draft _HLPF_HLS_Ministerial_Declaration_14_July.pdf).
Paul Rahmat SVD – VIVAT International, New York
Key results of global estimates of Child labor in 2020
The latest global estimates indicate that 160 million children – 63 million girls and 97 million boys were in child labor or 1 in 10 children worldwide.
79 million children were in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.
Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as the region with the highest prevalence and largest number of children in child labor in the amount of 86.6 million (23.9%) followed by Central and Southern Asia of 26.3 million (5.5%) and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia of 24.3 million (6.2%).
The COVID-19 crisis threatens to further erode global progress against child labor unless urgent mitigation measures are taken. 8.9 million children will be in child labor by the end of 2022 as a result of rising poverty driven by the pandemic.
Involvement in child labor is higher for boys than girls at all ages. Among all boys, 11.2 per cent are in child labor compared to 7.8 per cent of all girls
Child labor is much more common in rural areas. There are 122.7 million rural children in child labor compared to 37.3 million urban children
Most child labor – for boys and girls alike – continues to occur in agriculture. 70 % of all children in child labor, 112 million children in total, are in agriculture.
The largest share of child labor takes place within families. 72% of all child labor and 83 per cent of child labor among children aged 5 to 11 occurs within families, primarily on family farms or in family micro-enterprises.
Child labor is frequently associated with children being out of school. More than a quarter of children aged 5 to 11 and over a third of children aged 12 to 14 who are in child labor are out of school.