Global March Against Child Labour: From Exploitation to Education
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World Leaders wake up, save the school going children from tsunami effect of financial meltdown, IMF commit to fair play with poor
 

Statement from Global March Against Child Labor representing 2000 member organizations in 100 countries including ITUC and Education International representing the interest of the child laborers and the hardest to reach children worldwide.

The 1.4 billion people who live in or on the verge of extreme poverty are all facing grim future and the toughest battle of their lives in the developing world for survival as per the direct fallout of the financial meltdown. Learning from past we know that macroeconomic shocks and political instability have been demonstrated to play a role in determining the supply of child labor and school attendance rates, as was observed during the 1998 Asian financial crisis and observed a drop in enrolment rates and a rise in child labor among 10-14 year-olds in the Philippines. The impact of the crisis was also noted as resulting in increased labor exploitation of girls in Indonesia and Thailand. We are learning from Surat in Gujarat, India the recent slowdown has taken the sheen off  $ 10 Billion diamond industry and resulted in job losses of over half a million people. Workers have in large scale returned to their homes far away forcing the children to withdraw from schools in absence of social protection and school fees, pushing them to become child laborers. There is phenomenal drop out in the school attendance. The industry association of diamond and gem workers has proposed to provide continued assistance to only 36, 000 children to attend schools whose parents are part of the formal workforce. But bulk of the work force is informal and not entitled for any social protection. It sells cheap labor on daily wage basis. There are already 71 suicides reported by the diamond workers in the last several months since losing their jobs in the print media, imagine the fate of the children. In Africa the global downturn has undermined demand for many industrial commodities- including oil in Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, and copper in Zambia. The poor in Zambia growing flowers were able to send the children to schools but now the Dutch importers having cancelled their contract. In Senegal there is sharp decline in inward remittances from 15% of the population overseas contributing $2 Billion annually to support the family income as much as 70% or 7.6% of the GDP. World Bank estimates sharp decline in $95 Billion pumped to poor world wide by inward remittances, supplementing family incomes and in many situations allowing the poor to send their younger ones to school in pursuit of building a better future. Analysts fear 2.4 million Latin Americans may lose their jobs with the current meltdown, failure to act now with sense of fierce urgency will give rise to poverty of between 10% and 15% this year in the region. IMF’s own growth forecast for Africa says that 15 of the 21 countries which it judges most vulnerable to the crisis are in Africa. The victims of all this are the children, first they are withdrawn from school and then in forced to work as child laborers.

The Spring meeting of the Development Committee of IMF/WB is taking place against the back drop of this severe economic recession and the down ward spiral. This has created the severe liquidity problem and the situation has been compounded by the global financial institutions panic reaction of hasty capital outflows from the poor countries, deprecating values of the foreign currencies and sharp decline in the stock markets. In addition the trade embargoes have additionally exacerbated the situation in the domestic context by creating hurdles for export of goods, products, commodities and services creating large scale contraction of the economy and opportunities. The G-20 Heads of the Government’s met in London during April 2008 and considered only measures to provide stimulus for large businesses and to the IMF for strengthening the special drawing rights of the poor countries by assigning $ 250 Billion short term trade credit, and another $100 in aid for developing countries. The challenge remains in this to see that how the economic stimulus is linked to development in the South. The Global March and its worldwide membership is concerned about the impact of the global financial crisis on the  vulnerable families and hardest to reach children and in this respect submits the following demands to the Members of the Development Committee:

  • The need of the hour is for a people centered economic stimulus and this can only be achieved by initiating a positive social dialogue and fostering stronger partnership between agencies, institutions, NGO’s and social partners on how to stimulate community based economic development. 

  • Earmark at least $10 Billion towards supporting a package of incentives focusing on preventing children drop out from schools, withdrawing child labor from the informal  labor market in time bound manner, investing in building the infrastructure of the schools such as school buildings, water-sanitation services in the school, providing uniforms, running community kitchens to serve one hot meal daily, provisioning text books and other school supplies, allowing governments to hire more teachers and train the existing teachers and providing modest cash transfers to families to prevent child labor. All of this will enable jump start the local economy and orient the economic stimulus to people centered development.

  • There is fierce need for policy coherence and ILO’s programme to lie more closely alongside the programmes of UNESCO, the UNDP, World Bank. A good example of this will be to deliver in the form of concrete commitments to the Education For All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) for supporting country led efforts in true spirit of ownership and accountability and in partnership through the strengthening of the ILO led Time Bound International Programme on Elimination of Child Labor so that the efforts on EFA and elimination of child labor are logically placed as complimenting one another.

  • There is need to systematically rebuild the credibility of the IMF by embracing a governance system and scope for social dialogue to keep the focus on people centered development. It needs to be aligned to the new world reality emerging from the financial meltdown exposing its inherent shortcomings.

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Development Committee Press Conference - Remarks by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick

April 26, 2009

We had a constructive meeting today of the Development Committee. These meetings over the weekend were the first major global gathering since the G-20 and provided an opportunity to discuss the broader set of problems in developing countries where real economies are being hit by second and third waves of the crisis. The meeting of the Development Committee allows our 185 member countries to be full participants in discussions on resources, instruments, and responses that are needed for developing countries.  

There is a widespread recognition that the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, poor people could suffer the most, and that we must continue to act in real time to prevent a human catastrophe.

Before this crisis, the Millennium Development Goals on overcoming poverty by 2015 already looked like a stretch. Our latest research shows that most of these eight globally agreed goals are unlikely to be met. These include those related to hunger, child and maternal mortality, education, and progress in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.

An additional 55 to 90 million people will be trapped in extreme poverty in 2009. The number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb to over 1 billion this year.

In anticipation of this unfolding crisis, the World Bank has launched a series of initiatives to address key weaknesses in the global economy. We have announced plans to triple support for social protection, put in place $55 billion of financing for infrastructure, and $12 billion for agriculture over the next two years to help ensure vital food security and safety. Other initiatives include support for microfinance to help poor borrowers, a global trade finance program, and a capitalization fund for developing country banks. The committee underscored the importance of these actions and asked governments to provide additional support for these initiatives. It also urged governments to meet their existing commitments on aid and to consider going beyond them.

No one knows how long this crisis will last. We also do not know the pace of the recovery. The committee therefore supported the World Bank’s plans to make full use of IBRD’s balance sheet to increase lending by up to $100 billion over three years.

The Bank’s finances have been prudently run and we are therefore currently in a strong position to help our partner countries. We are tripling our support to IBRD countries and fast-tracking disbursements of IDA money. But given the uncertain outlook, our 185 members underscored the critical importance of ensuring that the World Bank has the necessary resources to confront this crisis. They have asked the World Bank to prepare an analysis of IBRD and IFC’s capital adequacy.   In addition, they have asked the World Bank to assess whether there is enough money on hand for the poorest countries, through the current IDA program. They have asked the World Bank’s management to report back on these two questions at the Annual Meeting in October.

This crisis is changing the world and the World Bank must change with it. It was widely recognized at the meeting that developing countries should have more influence in how the World Bank is run. The committee therefore agreed that the work on a second round of reforms to the bank’s voting structure should be accelerated. The aim should be to reach an agreement on these changes by the Spring Meeting in 2010. I have urged governments to be bold and far-sighted. 

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:
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Global March demands IMF Combine Fiscal Stimulus with Broader Social Dialogue

/Statement from Global March Against Child Labor representing 2000 member organizations in 100 countries including ITUC and Education International representing the interest of the child laborers and the hardest to reach children worldwide

The global civil society has seen with interest the outcomes of the Development Committee meetings in Washington, The D.C.GLOBAL MONITORING REPORT 2009 - A DEVELOPMENT EMERGENCY OVERVIEW prepared by IMF and World Bank and released in Washington, D.C on April 26, 2009 reiterates the assessment made by the ILO that 30-50 million more people around the world will be unemployed, 23 million from developing countries and that extreme poverty and hunger will bear down heavily on the lives of nearly 90 million people as the crisis deepens and we feel the full impact of it on the poor worldwide and twice as many will be undernourished. In poor countries, education outcomes, such as school enrollment, also tend to deteriorate during economic crises—especially for girls. The report further draws the attention to the fact that even at the MDG halfway point, around 75 million children of primary school age were not in school; it further did not risk making a forecast that how many more children in the school going age will be pushed out of school, as an aggregate impact of this on child labor world wide.

Kailash Satyarthi, President of the Global March Against Child Labor, remarked that, “we demand to earmark at least $10 Billion immediately out of the fiscal stimulus assigned to IMF to protect childhood of millions. This must be spent on supporting a package of incentives to prevent children drop out from schools, eliminating child labor, investing in building the education infrastructure including training and hiring adequate number of teachers. He questioned when will the international financial institutions start thinking on a child centric financing for development which is the only way of futuristic sustainable development. Global March welcomes President Zoellick’s proposal that developed countries invest 0.7 percent of their stimulus packages, or about $15 billion based on the packages announced to date, in a Vulnerability Fund to help developing countries is in some measure as it gives the opportunity to restitute the spirit of the Monterrey consensus. The triple functions of this to strengthen the social safety nets, funding in essential infrastructure and supporting enterprise and micro finance institutions should all be further categorically _qualified to bolster school attendance, prevent school drop out and fight child labor in quest to expand fair and decent work for adults.

Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education

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All photographs courtsey of U. Roberto Romano © ROMANO unless otherwise mentioned

The Global March Against Child Labour is a movement to mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free, meaningful education and to be free from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.