World Day Against Child Labour

The World Day Against Child Labour was launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organization to highlight the predicament faced by children engaged in labour. It is observed on 12 June annually to bring attention and promote the abolition of child labour.

The slogan for World Day 2023 is “Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!” For the last two decades, child labour was steadily decreasing due to the work of the international community. Unfortunately, a series of conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic plunged families into poverty thus leading to a steep increase of child labour. Today, 160 million (1 in 10) children are child laborers. 2/3 of child laborers work to contribute to the family income.

Inadequate economic growth is a root cause of this issue. Child labour leads to a never-ending cycle of poverty for their families. Children are deprived of an education, which then impedes them of better opportunities/career mobility as they become adults and then traps them in continued poverty. Due to lack of education, they cannot access better remunerated jobs, thus having to rely on their children to fill in the income gaps. This has caused entire countries to halt in economic growth and furthered the socioeconomic divide between the Global North and the Global South. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation.

The child labour statistics pre-pandemic showed that child labour can be eliminated if the international community work together to address the root causes. In 2022, the 5th Global Conference for the Elimination of Child Labour was held and the Durban Call to Action saw a global commitment to tackle the root causes of child labour to advance social justice. Their goal is to ensure that the eradication of child labour is a state priority and to develop policies that promote fair trade. Relevant recommendations to States call to implement a strong legal framework of labour standards; guarantee access to quality education; create programmes to reduce poverty and lessen the socioeconomic divide; and promote decent work. Providing youth with vocational courses is a good way to ensure they are attending school while still getting valuable work skills that will support their families in adulthood.

The Salesian Sisters have been hard at work in the 97 countries the Institute is present in. From 2016 to 2019, IIMA surveyed 54 countries. The survey found that the Sisters provided economic support to 66,358 families, sponsored the education of 58,784 children while providing free education or programmes to almost 148,000 children and carried out 189 projects to promote decent work.

Accordingly, World Day Against Child Labour 2023 calls for:
• Reinvigorated international action using the Global Coalition for Social Justice as a framework that centres on eliminating child labour
• International ratification of ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age (paired with ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour which was universally ratified in 2020) to provide legal protection to victims of child labour
• Implementation of the Durban Call to Action universally

Data Source: International Labour Organization