…Marks day on June 12
Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
Tomorrow, June 12, is the International Day Against Child Labour and as the world marks the day, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has mandated the Nigerian government and other world leaders to end any form of child labour by the year 2025.
The ILO in the same vein has promised to intensify collaborative action with governments around the world.
ILO director-general, Guy Ryder, gave the directive as he declared that 152 million children aged five to 17 are in child labour worldwide.
Ryder, who was speaking at a panel on child labour held on the sidelines of the just concluded International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, stressed the need to priortise programme by all governments.
He advised governments around the world that they must not change the goal post of the ten year global elimination target set in 2015 to 2025.
Ryder called for urgent action to tackle the economic root causes of child labour, pointing out that attention needs to be paid not only to global supply chains, but also to unpaid family work in agriculture.
Ryder pointed out that some 152 million children were in child labour worldwide; adding that, between 2012 and 2016, there was “almost no reduction in the number of children aged five to 11 in child labour, and the number of these most vulnerable, youngest children in hazardous work actually increased.”
This, Ryder added, was partly because child labour in agriculture, which is mostly unpaid family work, has increased.
“These children typically begin child labour at the age of six or seven and they commonly perform hazardous work as they get older,” he said.
The event in Geneva also marked the 20th anniversary of the Global March Against Child Labour, which culminated in June 1998, when hundreds of marchers, including children, took to the stage at the International Labour Conference, where delegates paved the ground for the adoption in 1999 of ILO Convention No. 182 on “Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour.”
Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist and Nobel peace prize laureate, who led the march, told the panel that much still remains to be done.
“If the children are still trapped in the international supply chains, if the children are still enslaved, if the children are still sold and bought like animals – sometimes for less than the price of animals – to work in the fields and farms, and shops and factories, or for households as domestic workers, this is a blot on humanity,” he said.
Basu Rai, from Nepal, who had been the youngest of the marchers who reached Geneva in 1998, said: “Still there are 152 million children who are languishing in a kind of slavery. So this is the time to act collectively.”
Several delegates held back tears as Zulema Lopez recounted her days as a child labourer in the United States.
“At the age of seven, it was normal for me to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning, put on my shoes and my T-shirt and go to work in the hot sun, burning, 20 to 30-pound buckets of cucumbers next to me, trying to make ends meet.”