By Sara Neall
One in ten children worldwide are forced into labor.
64 million girls and 88 million boys.
Nearly half of these children, 73 million, do hazardous work. Work that directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as every human being below the age of eighteen years. It defines child labor as work that is mentally, physically or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Work that deprives children the opportunity to attend school. Work that requires children to leave school prematurely. Work that forces children to combine school attendance with excessively long and tiring days.
This labor prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future. It perpetuates poverty and supports economies built on unjust and unsafe working conditions. We must work to withdraw children from this type of labor. We must provide children with education and assist their families with training and employment opportunities which will contribute directly to creating decent work for adults.
Child labor is the product of an array of social and economic forces.
There is a strong correlation between child labor and situations of conflict and disaster. The incidence of child labor in countries affected by armed conflict is 77% higher than the global average. It is important to prioritize the elimination of child labor within humanitarian responses and during reconstruction and recovery.
Most child labor takes place within the family unit. More than 2/3 of children who are forced to work, work to contribute to their family earnings. This underscores an important broader point concerning the nature of child labor in the world today. We must better understand and address family reliance on children’s labor. This is critical.
Policy responses to child labor need to be integrated into national development efforts and adapted to local circumstances. Child labor is not an isolated issue. It’s elimination must be reflected in policies of education, social protection, labor markets and labor standards.
Everyone can take a stand and make a difference. Our economy is built on unjust and unsafe working conditions. What we buy often supports child labor and poor working conditions. We must spend wisely, consume with care and make all children our priority.
2021 is International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. Take Action Here
And learn more by joining the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the webinar,
“The Year for the Elimination of Child Labor: Challenge and Hope,” on June 14 at 7:00pm (EST).
You can find more information and the zoom link in the June Edition of Shalom News