Shafiq R Khan

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World Day against Child labor

FAMOUS ENGLISH poet William Wordsworth once said, “The Child is the father of the Man.” With the time, the quote lost its significance and now hardly anyone cares about the saying of Wordsworth. Gruesome fact is that today the wealth of parents decide the fortune of the children whether they will enjoy the luxurious amenities or work from the childhood to earn bread. Nowadays children have been used for domestic work, mining, agriculture and other hard works. Besides, millions of children work for long hours in factories, mostly in dangerous conditions. These children are unaware about the liberty of childhood and suffer from the cruel trend generated by civilised society.

For those “unlucky” children living in misery, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has declared June 12 as World Day Against Child Labour, which is observed across the world. Sadly the day is not popular as Valentine Day, Friendship Day or other celebrated day, but the concerned people across the world give importance to this day and observe with great enthusiasm. Non-government organisations, human right activists and other social welfare organisations work at their best to spread awareness among common people related to child labour.

According the ILO estimate, about 165 million children between the ages of five and 14 are involved in child labour across the world. Usually each year on World Day Against Child Labour, the ILO focusses on one of the ’Worst Forms of Child labour’ listed in Convention No 182. Like many countries in the world, child labour condition is also very bad in India. World’s second largest most populated country, India has the highest number of child labour of the world. Despite the strict laws, the child labour is increasing day-by-day in India. A number of reasons are behind the huge number of child labour in India. Poverty and illiteracy are the main reasons behind the increasing number of child labours in India. Generally poor parents encourage their children to earn money by working instead of sending them to school. Traditionally, girls suffer more from boys, as parents prefer the boys to send school and send girls to work for household works. At the same time, rich people and owners of factories never think about the health and freedom of the children

Seeing the continuous growth in the number of child labour across the world the United Nations (UN) and the broader international community have set up the Millennium Development Goals. The community has set the target that by the year 2015, all boys and girls will complete a full course of primary education with gender parity. However, these targets cannot be fulfilled unless the factors that generate child labour and prevent poor families from sending their children to school are addressed.

Significant In 2009

The World Day this year marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark ILO Convention No. 182, which addresses the need for action to tackle the worst forms of child labour. Whilst celebrating progress made during the past ten years, the World Day will highlight the continuing challenges, with a focus on exploitation of girls in child labour.

Around the world, an estimated 100 million girls are involved in child labour. Many of these girls undertake similar types of work as boys, but often also endure additional hardships and face extra risks. Moreover, girls are all too often exposed to some of the worst forms of child labour, often in hidden work situations.

On this World Day call for:

  • Policy responses to address the causes of child labour, paying particular attention to the situation of girls.
  • Urgent action to tackle the worst forms of child labour.
  • Greater attention to the education and skills training needs of adolescent girls - a key action point in tackling child labour and providing a pathway for girls to gain Decent Work as adults.

Girls and Child labor

Large numbers of young girls labour in agriculture and in the manufacturing sector, frequently working in dangerous conditions. A major sector of employment for young girls is domestic work in third party households. Oftentimes this work is hidden from the public eye, leading to particular dangers and risks. The extreme exploitation of girls in the worst forms of child labour includes slavery, bonded labour, prostitution and pornography.

Girls face multiple disadvantages

Most child labour is rooted in poverty, often associated with multiple disadvantage. Socio-economic inequalities based on language, race, disability and rural-urban differences remain deeply entrenched. Girls can face particular disadvantages due to discrimination and practices which allocate certain forms of work to girls. Many girls take on unpaid household work for their families, usually more so than boys. This work may include childcare, cooking, cleaning, and fetching water and fuel. Girls often also have to combine long hours of household chores with some form of economic activity outside the household presenting girls with a “double burden”. This can have a negative impact on any opportunity for school attendance and can present a physical danger to girls.

Girls still disadvantaged in education

Millennium Development Goal 2 calls for all children to complete a full course of primary education by 2015. Millennium Development Goal 3 has a target of eliminating gender disparity both in primary and secondary education. However globally some 75 million children are still not enrolled in primary school. For every 100 boys in school, there are only 94 girls and girls in rural areas are particularly disadvantaged. Gross enrolment at secondary level in developing countries is 61% for boys and 57% for girls. In least developed countries the figures are 32% for boys and 26% for girls. It is clear that in much of the developing world huge numbers of girls are failing to access education at post primary level.

Girls may often be the last to be enrolled and the first to be withdrawn from schools if a family has to make a choice between sending a boy or girl to school. Girls’ access to education may also be limited by other factors, for example the safety of the journey to school or lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities.

Without access to quality education, girls drift into the labour force at an early age well below the minimum age of employment. It is therefore vital to extend secondary education and skills training for girls and to ensure that children from poor and rural households can access this provision.

On this important day, we should at least think about the possible ways to stop the child labour and save the children who are future of nation. We should create awareness among the parents that children need a good quality education and proper training for acquiring the skills necessary to succeed in the labour market. Last but not the least, those who hire children for work should think whether they will allow their children to do the same work. If such thinking will develop in the society then the evil of child labour can be removed from the world.

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