Child Labour: New high in 2 decades; millions at risk

Child Labour: New high in 2 decades; millions at risk

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Global report on child labour

With each passing day since the Covid-19 outbreak, the people are forced to live with more critical health and economic impacts of the pandemic. While most vulnerable families are the hardest hit, their children have to bear the biggest burns. On the one hand children from fragile communities already lack the basic amenities on the other hand they are losing even what they had. Their tender minds cannot understand their freedom and future is at risk in the pandemic time.

Most of these children rarely got proper health, education and meals in pre-Covid age. Now, their situation becomes more susceptible as they have to take burden of their home. As families lost sources of income, they pushed their into child labour to earn a living for the household. The pandemic has stamped out progress of decades to eradicate poverty, child labour, child marriages and human trafficking. Even the progress in medical and education has reversed.

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Global report on child labour: New high

It’s the first time in 20 years when the number of child labourers globally rose to 160 million, says report. Over the last four years, 8.4 million children were put to work, and millions others are under threat during pandemic. The report suggests that governments and international development banks must prioritize investments in programmes that help to take children from work and send them back to school, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

She also urged the world to formulate stronger social protection programmes that can support families enough. So that they don’t find any need to send their children to work. The progress towards ending of child labour has stalled for the first time in last two decades, revealed the report. Last four years have reversed the previous downward trend when child labour numbers saw a significant down by 94 million from year 2000 to 2016.

Most vulnerable most prone to child labour

There have been a considerable up in the numbers of child workers aged between 5 and 11. These children contribute to more than half of the total child labour figure worldwide. The figure for child workers between the age of 5 and 17 in hazardous work has increased by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016. Job at hazardous workplaces harms child health, safety or moral well-being. It’s wake up call, needing quick actions to save children at risk, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

In sub-Saharan Africa remained among the regions prone to child labour activities. Here, an additional 16.6 million children have joined to workforce since 2016. As per the report, major causes of vulnerability remained population growth, persistent crises, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection measures. Further, Covid-19 pandemic has halted decades of progress in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean regions, revealed the UN report.

Child labour may go worse in coming years

Due to pandemic, an estimate 9 million additional children are under threat of being put to work by 2022 end. In the absence of critical social protection coverage, the study projected, this figure may rise to 46 million new child labourers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) collectively published this report, titled – Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward, two days prior to the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.

Highlights of child labour report findings

  • The agriculture sector contributes to 70 percent of the child labourers. Service sector followed with 20 percent and industrial sector with 10 percent child labourers.
  • Around 28 percent of 5 to 11 year old and 35 percent of 12 to 14 year old child labourers are out of school.
  • Boys are more frequent than girls into child labours. But household chores of 21 hours per week narrow the gender gap.
  • Child labour stands at 14 percent in rural areas, roughly three times higher than in urban areas with 5 percent.

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