“Human Rights and Social Justice – let’s end Child Labour” is this year’s theme. Child labour is bad for business, it hampers economic growth and prosperity and blocks social progress – there can be no social justice with child labour, said Ms Margaret Reade Rounds, Officer in Charge, ILO Pakistan.
This year the World Day Against Child Labour spotlights the right of all children to be protected from child labour and from other violations of fundamental human rights. Pakistan recently experienced multiple natural disasters in 2010 and 2011 which rendered millions of people across Pakistan without livelihoods. This has resulted in increased vulnerability to child labour in flood affected areas. Provinces such as Punjab are extending the reach of programmes to withdraw children from the labour force, however insufficient data is an obstacle.
In 2010 the international community adopted a roadmap to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016, stressing that child labour is an impediment to children’s rights and a barrier to economic development and social progress.
World Day 2012 highlights the work needed to bring the roadmap to reality. ILO Conventions seek to protect children from exposure to child labour. Together with other international instruments, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they provide an important framework for legislation established by governments and implemented by communities.
According to most recent ILO global estimates around 215 million children worldwide “labour”, with more than half this number involved in its worst forms. These children should be in school, being educated and preparing for decent work as adults. By entering the labour market prematurely, they are deprived of critical education and training that can help to lift them, their families and communities out of a cycle of poverty. In its worst forms, child labourers may also be exposed to physical, psychological or moral suffering that can cause long term damage to their lives. On this World Day we call for:
Policies and programmes that foster effective progress in the elimination of child labour.
Action to build local and global movements against child labour.
On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, ILO, UNESCO and UNICEF, has vowed to highlight the issues of child labour at this occasion.
According to UNESCO’s Representative to Pakistan, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, “Education is a basic human right, and child labour deprives young children from availing their fundamental right to free education. When children are involved in laborious work and deprived from attending school, the opportunity for them to fully develop their potential and become a productive and civilized member of the society is missed. This situation is worsened by the growing problem of insufficient access to schooling. Today, over 7 million children of age 5 to 9 years of age are not in schools. Most of these out of school children, it is anticipated, are subject to child labour. An effective strategy towards elimination of child labour will be to enforce Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, by making education completely free and compulsory at least up to secondary level. UNESCO believes that poverty, illiteracy, and lack of awareness among parents about the benefits of education, and poor learning conditions in schools are the factors, which perpetuate child labour in the society. UNESCO has its serious concerns about the prejudice, which underlines in society regarding education of girls and force them to work in the early ages, instead of going to schools. Federal and provincial governments, CSOs, and donors accelerate and scale up their efforts, as presently quality of education is poor and not meeting the market demands. Only if quality education is ensured, elimination of child labour and provision of quality education to all children in Pakistan is guaranteed.”
UNICEF Representative, Dan Rohrmann said, “Child labour is often invisible and unacknowledged. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of children in Pakistan are engaged in child labour in different sectors which deprives them of adequate education, health and freedom, violating their basic rights. Concrete data on child labour is often hard to come by due to its invisible nature. We must recognise that behind each number there is the face of a child. Safe, accessible and high quality education is the best way to encourage families to send their children to school and to prevent children from engaging in worst forms of child labour. UNICEF advocates and supports the creation of a protective environment for children from violence, exploitation and abuse as an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth and development.”