160 million people are victims of child labor

  • Notice by Simone Galimberti (Kathmandu, Nepal)
  • Inter Press Service

However, the latest figures published jointly by the ILO and UNICEF on the occasion of the next World Day Against Child Labor June 12 paints a very worrying scenario with an unprecedented increase in the number of working children.

Child labor: 2020 global estimates, trends and the way forward”, The latest major publication on the matter, shows that there are now 160 million child laborers, an increase of 8.4 million over the past four years, a very disturbing, if not surprisingly surprising result. a major blow to the gains of the past two decades.

This is why it is imperative that G7 leaders take a stand against this global scourge, ensuring that any global strategy focused on “better building forward” must also make the fight against child exploitation a top priority. as part of a larger reset strategy. global development.

At the legislative level, there are encouraging developments that could pave the way for a holistic approach based on Agenda 2030 that will create global momentum around global target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The goal, after which a coalition against child labor is named, focuses on “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and ensure the prohibition and elimination of child labor, including the recruitment and use of child labor. child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms”.

For example, several countries around the world, including France and the Netherlands have in place strong human rights due diligence legislation that requires large companies to have more robust compliance mechanisms in the sense United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct.

The good news is that the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is expected to come up with a comprehensive set of reforms by the end of the year on mandatory human rights due diligence, although ‘there is fear this could be further delayed.

Even though future negotiations within the complex EU decision-making system could weaken the final legislation, there is no doubt that the expectations are so high and the level of ambition expected in the final document so important that half measures are taken. baked goods won not be accepted by Parliament whose approval is mandatory for the approval of legislation.

Amid the news that the G7 is close to a deal on a global tax deal that will affect large global corporations, we can assume that the best and most effective way to tackle child labor “head-on” is to force companies to step up their commitment to human rights.

This is probably the most pragmatic way from a Western perspective to put child labor back at the center of the global agenda.

Given the near universal discontent with big business around the world, this is also perhaps the surest bet to ensure that the G7 and G20 countries do not forget the fight against child labor. their debates.

While it is vital that world leaders meet this weekend in a beautiful setting in Cornwall to take a stand on the issue, we should not overlook the fact that most of the time child labor is a phenomenon that occurs. develops in a favorable environment in the developing world, and in the worst case, it is almost an intrinsic part of the local fabric.

Often working children are recruited by small and often informal microenterprises in the developing world, economic entities that do not even report to local tax offices or those of the mostly ineffective labor authorities responsible for monitoring. child labor.

The joint ILO-UNICEF report is clear on this point when it explains that it is “much more common in rural areas with 122.7 million rural children in child labor compared to 37.3 million urban children. where children are involved in work related to agriculture.

To confirm the trend, according to the report, “the largest share of child labor takes place within families with” 72 percent of all child labor and 83 percent of child labor among children ages 5 to It occurs within families, mainly on family farms or in family microenterprises.

This information proves how difficult the fight against child labor has been over the past two decades, despite very encouraging improvements around the world.

Lobbying large corporations alone will also not be enough because many developing countries with large numbers of working children are not attractive enough to accommodate manufacturing sites that are otherwise technically run by entrepreneurs. local, often in violation of the most basic human rights provisions.

To really move forward, the G7 and G20 must go far beyond the equitable distribution and production of essential vaccines, a gigantic task in itself.

They must come up with ambitious plans that will mobilize massive amounts of resources in unprecedented numbers that will help developing countries not only to transition to a net zero future, but to do so while also ensuring much greater equity in outcomes. national development sought by developing countries. nations that must include the most vulnerable segments of their populations.

This means treating child labor not as a problem in its own right, but as part of a larger strategy capable of closing the fault lines so common in many emerging countries, such as poor public health and poor education. , the lack of decent employment opportunities, all the scars of remarkable but unfair pre-pandemic economic growth that have proven incapable of really reverberating.

World leaders should be tough on billionaires and weird global corporations, but at the same time, they should remember that tackling child labor is a priority and an essential pillar in building a more equitable world.

One way for them to start would be to come up with an urgent plan of action to support these nations in the Scouts Initiative, countries which have shown in the past their commitment against child labor but whose efforts now risk being brutally reversed.

Boldness is essential especially if you do not want to despise Year for the abolition of child labor which goes unnoticed by most.

Eliminating child labor by 2025 may be a reality, but taking meaningful steps in this direction is not now.

The author, co-founder of ENGAGE, a non-profit NGO in Nepal, writes about volunteering, social inclusion, youth development and regional integration as a driver to improve people’s lives. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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