One in ten children in the world works instead of going to school
ROME (ILO News) – June 12 is World Day Against Child Labor, which this year focuses on universal social protection as a tool to end child labor around the world. The day aims to draw everyone’s attention to the need and urgency of taking action to end the unacceptable forms of exploitation of children and adolescents in the world of work.
This year’s World Day marks the conclusion of the Fifth World Conference on Child Labor, held last May in Durban, South Africa, and brought together governments, employers ‘and workers’ organizations in the Member States. of the ILO, as well as other partners active in the fight against child labor. The Conference adopted the Durban Call to Action for the Elimination of Child Labor, which proposes a series of priority measures and calls for the need to intensify efforts to eliminate the world of child labor. To follow up on the call, the ILO calls on governments to increase investment in social protection systems and programs and to ensure universal access to free and quality compulsory education.
The call comes at a critical juncture as, despite the unprecedented progress of the last two decades following the adoption of Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labor in 1999: child labor has grown again in recent years. Just before the pandemic began, 160 million children and adolescents worldwide (one in ten of the world’s total child population) were working instead of going to school. The economic crisis caused by the pandemic, conflicts and other humanitarian disasters exposes more children and adolescents to the risk of labor exploitation. Without taking steps to mitigate the impact of ongoing crises and conflicts, the ILO estimates that child labor could increase by about 9 million by the end of 2022. This is a paradox given that today there are around 207 million young people of working age and adults. that he would like a job but can’t find it.
Prepared by the UNICEF International Labor Office and the Innocent Institute in Florence, the new ILO / UNICEF report shows that, even before the pandemic, less than half of the world’s population (or 46, 9 percent) only benefited from one of the social protections. benefits. Child coverage was even lower: 1.5 billion children (3/4 of the world’s population as a whole during childhood) did not benefit from any social protection measures.
Child labor remains a global phenomenon and all countries are affected, both directly and through global trade channels and global supply chains. Italy is also not exempt from the pockets of exploitation of child labor. EUROSTAT surveys show that in Italy in 2020 one in four children (or 24.9%) was at risk of poverty and social exclusion.1 . The report of the Guarantor Authority for Children and Adolescents, published earlier this month, indicates that early school leaving of upper secondary school students (aged 11 to 14) mainly affects children. and adolescents and in the southern regions and islands, and Sicily records the highest rate. In these regions, the report points to an apparent correlation between school dropout and child labor, which especially affects children between the ages of 14 and 15.2 .
“In general, child labor in Italy remains hidden due to a lack of statistical and administrative data. “Data is the starting point and the indispensable tool for monitoring the phenomenon and for implementing effective interventions based on the individual needs and characteristics of children and the specificities of the different economic sectors and geographical areas most affected,” said Gianni Rosas, Director of the ILO Office for Italy and San Marino.
Social protection and quality education are universal and inalienable human rights. Its effectiveness ensures that families remain immune to child labor, especially in times of multiple and interconnected crises such as the current ones. Even today, the poor work of many young people of working age and many adults is one of the main causes that force families to send their children to work instead of going to school.
“The exclusion of education and training is often systemic. It is also at the root of child labor, poorly paid and poor quality jobs and segmentation of the labor market. It is very likely that a child who did not go to school because he is forced to work will be a poor worker throughout his working life “, added Rosas.
All this creates a chain of poverty and social exclusion that can be passed down from generation to generation. Breaking this chain requires synergistic action through the implementation of interventions in the education and training of children and adolescents, including early actions to prevent early school leaving and child labor, the adoption of access measures to social protection for all and the implementation of policies to promote decent work for young people and adults, especially those most at risk because they are relegated to contexts of economic and social marginalization. Only in this way will it be possible to reach the goal 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations for Sustainable Development, which aims to end child labor in all its forms by 2025.