World Day Against Child Labour 2020 is being observed across the globe with focus on the impact of coronavirus crisis on child labour.
The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer and the crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labour.
There are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours.
In a message on the eve of this day, Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that we must reaffirm our collective commitment to protect our children and ensure that each child is given the opportunity to realize their potential.
She said that this year, as the world confronts an unprecedented pandemic, children face an increased risk of child labour, child marriages and other forms of exploitation.
She said the COVID-19 public health emergency has disrupted the right to education for children across the world. In Pakistan, there are an estimated 22.8 million children out of school. This is likely to adversely affect learning outcomes and exacerbate existing inequalities in educational attainment such as high female dropout rates.
She said her ministry is working on reviewing and strengthening laws and institutional mechanisms to protect child rights in Pakistan. Laws at the federal and provincial level set bans on hazardous work for children and minimum age limits for labour.
She said that Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, its Optional Protocols and International Labour Organisations (ILO) conventions related to child labour.
Prevalence of child labour
Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. They are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development.
In the least developed countries, slightly more than one in four children (ages 5 to 17) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development.
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 with 72 million.
Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest where seven percent of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in the region. Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions together account for almost nine out of every ten children in child labour worldwide.
While the percentage of children in child labour is highest in low-income countries, their numbers are actually greater in middle-income countries. Nine percent of all children in lower-middle-income countries and seven percent of all children in upper-middle-income countries are in child labour.
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