Eradicating Child Labour as Career

Ranjan K Baruah

Like any human being every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. In spite of many progress and changes in society the tragedy is that today, throughout the world, around 218 million children work, many full-time. They do not go to school and have little or no time to play. Many do not receive proper nutrition or care. They are denied the chance to be children. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling is generally regarded as being something positive. Observed on June 12th, World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour. Emphasizing the link between social justice and child labour, the slogan for the World Day in 2023 is ‘Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!’.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the WDACL in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to: "Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms."

Since 2000, for nearly two decades, the world had been making steady progress in reducing child labour. But over the past few years, conflicts, crises and the COVID-19 pandemic, have plunged more families into poverty – and forced millions more children into child labour. Economic growth has not been sufficient, nor inclusive enough, to relieve the pressure that too many families and communities feel and that makes them resort to child labour. Today, 160 million children are still engaged in child labour. That is almost one in ten children worldwide.

Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour — one-fifth — and the absolute number of children in child labour — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures — 7% of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in this region.

The Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions together account for almost nine out of every ten children in child labour worldwide. The remaining child labour population is divided among the Americas (11 million), Europe and Central Asia (6 million), and the Arab States (1 million). In terms of incidence, 5% of children are in child labour in the Americas, 4% in Europe and Central Asia, and 3% in the Arab States. While the percentage of children in child labour is highest in low-income countries, their numbers are actually greater in middle-income countries.

This statistics and the issue bring opportunities for individuals who would like to work for elimination of child labour. One may choose to study courses like Social Work, Development Studies, etc. There are jobs in government departments as well as NGOs and also Corporate and Corporate also conducts activities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for the rights of the children. Working against child labour means a more just society with human rights for all.  United Nations agencies like the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) are focused on the development of all children.

In India, we are yet to be free from child labour which means we have more challenges as well as opportunity in this field. One must have passion and patience apart from qualification to be successful in this field. Let us choose a career against child labour and make our world free from child labour.


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