Ranjan K Baruah
All the children of the world have the right to get formal education and play and enjoy their childhood. The tragedy is that there are many who are deprived from many rights and one of the worst forms of violence against children is the child labour. in spite of significant progress has been made in reducing child labour over the last two decades, progress has slowed over time, and it has even stalled during the period 2016-2020. Today, 160 million children still engaged in child labour – some as young as 5.
We are aware that children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development. In the least developed countries, slightly more than one in four children (ages 5 to 17) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development.
Today, throughout the world, around 218 million children work, many full-time. They do not go to school and have little or no time to play. Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour — one-fifth — and the absolute number of children in child labour — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures — 7% of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in this region.
We should learn that not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. Child labour is work carried out to the detriment and endangerment of a child, in violation of international law and national legislation.
This year’s World Day Against Child Labour will be celebrated with a "Week of Action against Child Labour", marked from 3-12 June 2022. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. One of the major aims set for the ILO at its founding in 1919 was the abolition of child labour.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour. Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to: "Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms."
Goal 8 of the SDGs, adopted by the world leaders in 2015, (Target 8.7) calls on all to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025 as an essential step to achieving decent work for all, full and productive employment and inclusive and sustained economic growth.
There are many programmes in India which are related to universal social protection. We have programmes like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which are aimed at enhancing the health, nutrition and learning opportunities of infants, young children (O-6 years) and their mothers; mid-day meal scheme to ensure no drop out, etc. Apart from initiatives from Government and other voluntary societies or nonprofit organizations, it is important for each and every one of us to ensure that no child is engaged in labour activities. Let us ensure that all children enjoy their rights and grow up as responsible citizens in future.
(With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback may be sent to [email protected]