One in every 10 children works, out of schools

Around the world, some 160 million children earn a living, instead of going to school; Child labour, springing from a lack of social justice, has increased during the last 20 years: ILO official


Around the world, some 160 million children work to earn a living, instead of going to school. That’s almost one in every 10 children.

On Monday’s World Day against Child Labor, the International Labor Organization (ILO) shared these staggering numbers as a reminder of the urgent need to end this practice.

ILO’s Director-General Gilbert Houngbo said that for the first time in 20 years, child labor is on the rise.

“Child labor rarely happens because parents are bad, or do not care. Rather, it springs from a lack of social justice,” he said.

Solutions: decent work, social protection

Mr. Houngbo stressed on Twitter that the “most effective solutions” to the child labor emergency are decent work for adults so that they can provide for their families and improved social protection.

He also underscored that tackling the root causes of child labor requires ending forced labor, creating safe and healthy workplaces, letting workers organize and make their voices heard, as well as ending discrimination since child labor often affects the most marginalized.

Staggering figure for sub-Saharan Africa

More than half of all those subjected to child labor – some 86.6 million – are in sub-Saharan Africa, according to joint research by the ILO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Almost 24 per cent of all children in the region, or close to one in four, are in child labor.

Bulk of child labour in agriculture

Most of those in child labor on the African continent, and indeed worldwide, work in agriculture. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of child labor globally and that the numbers of youngsters working in the sector are on the rise.

FAO stressed that child labor was three times more prevalent among rural smallholders in farming, fisheries, or forestry than in urban areas.

The agency emphasized that children often assist their parents in producing crops, rearing livestock, or catching fish, “mainly for family consumption”, and that while not all this work is considered child labor, “for too many children, their work, particularly in agriculture, goes beyond the limits of safety and well-being and crosses into a form of labor that can harm their health or educational opportunities”.

‘Ensure that children have a childhood’

FAO underscored the need to tackle the issue “from the field right up to the global level, to ensure that children have a childhood”.

The agency is working with partners on eliminating child labor in key sectors such as cocoa, cotton, and coffee. Together with ILO and the European Union, FAO has reached more than 10,000 women, men, youth, and children in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Pakistan as part of a project aiming to address child labor in cotton value chains by improving households’ livelihoods, empowering women economically, and raising awareness of the problem.

FAO has also developed a framework for ending child labor in agriculture, aiming to provide guidance to policymakers, and has supported countries such as Uganda and Cabo Verde in developing prevention policies. Courtesy: UN News


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