World Day Against Child Labour
The 12th of June has been set by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the World Day against Child Labour. Over the years this day has been celebrated worldwide. The day is widely supported by governments, UN agencies, civil societys, organizations, individuals and many others who are concerned about tackling child labour. In 2019 the International Labour Organization is celebrating 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work, with the theme: 'Children shouldn't work in fields but on dreams!'
What is child labour?
Child Labour is fundamentally different from casual work done by children. Not all work children do can be classified as child labour. This are for example, helping in the house, earning pocket money outside school hours/ during vacation et cetera. As long it does not affect their health, personal development, or interferes with their schooling. It also contributes towards children's development, welfare of families, it helps to prepare themselves to be productive members of society during their adult life as it provides them skills and experience. Now let's look closer into child labour. The term child labour can be defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. Child labour simply means that children are forced to work like adults and take part in economic activities. It refers to employment of children in work that deprives them of their childhood, interfering with their ability to attend regular school, that that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. According to the ILO child labour applies to people up to the stage of thirteen (13), or seventeen (17) in case of dangerous work.
There are different forms of child labour. The worst of them involves enslaved children, separated from their families, left to fend for themselves, on the streets of large cities, often at a very early stage and or exposed to hazards and illness, trafficking, child prostitution, illicit activities, such as drugs and work which is likely to harm their health and safety.
Causes of Child Labour
There are different factors that contribute to child labour. These factors include poverty and illiteracy of a child's parents, lack of awareness about the harmful effects of child labour, the families social and economic circumstances, lack of access to basic and meaningful quality education and skills training, the cultural values of the family and surrounding society, and high rates of adult unemployment and under- employment. Children are often also bonded to labour due to a family indebtedness. Children out of school or those at risk of dropping out can be easily drawn into work and more vulnerable to exploitation. Girls, especially those from socially disadvantaged groups, tend to be at a higher risk of being forced into work. Other reasons for children being forced into work are: rural poverty and urban migration expose children being trafficked for work, conflicts, droughts and natural disasters, lack of livelihood options also lead to a child's "need" to contribute to the family income.
Children are employed because they are cheap and pliable to the demands of their employer. They are not aware of their rights. The risks that these children face can have an irreversible physical, psychological and moral impact on their development, health and wellbeing.
Challenges to end child labour
Child labour is not uniform. It takes many forms depending upon the type of work that children are made to do, the age and sex of the child and whether they work independently or with families. Due to this complex nature of child labour, there is no one strategy that can be used to eliminate it.
Combatting child labour requires long term co-ordinated action which involves many stakeholders and the government. This includes educational institutions, mass media, NGOs and community-based organizations as well as trade unions and employers. It is important that the attitudes and mindsets of people are changed to instead employ adults and allow all children to go to school and have the chance to learn, play and socialize as they should.
Education is a key to preventing child labour and has been one of the most successful methods to reduce child workers in India. This includes expanding education access to schooling, improving the quality and relevance of education, addressing violence in schools, providing relevant vocational training and using existing systems to ensure child workers return to school.
Street Children Project as an organization and very much concerned about the plight of vulnerable children invites everyone to join us and others to eradicate child labour in all its various forms! Let's join hands together to make the dreams of this children come true!
For more information on Child Labour go to: www.ilo.org