GENEVA (ILO News) - With World Cup fever in full swing, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will symbolically wave a "Red Card" against child work as part of a series of global events beginning this week to mark the World Day Against Child Labour.
World Cup football legend Roger Milla of Cameroon and leaders of the sports, scouting and labour worlds will speak at ceremonies here in Geneva on 12 June, the World Day. Mr. Milla and others will appeal for an end to child labour at the event, designed to highlight the ILO's global "Red Card to child labour" campaign which, through the partnership with FIFA, has reached millions of people around the world since its launch in 2002.
At the same time, activities ranging from television specials to nationwide discussions, marches and public awareness raising events are planned in some 100 countries under the theme, "The End of Child Labour: Together we can do it!", according to the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).
"Many have said child labour will always be with us," said Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO. "But the global movement against child labour is proving them wrong. That is the meaning of the symbolic waving of the Red Card against child labour - it's not just a gesture, it's a way to highlight our struggle for the right of every child to a real childhood."
Below is an overview of events taking place on or around the World Day.
In Geneva, the main events on 8, 9 and 12 June coincide with the ILO's International Labour Conference.
Thursday, 8 June: Tripartite Event: Ministers of Labour from eight member States of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) will exchange views on their action plan against child labour. The event will consolidate an initiative launched in Lisbon in May, including a CPLP Declaration against child labour and commitment of the concerned countries to eradicate the worst forms of child labour by the year 2016 (Palais des Nations, 6.15 p.m. to 7.45 p.m.).
Friday 9 June: Delegates to the International Labour Conference will hold a plenary discussion on the Global Report to review progress made and identify challenges ahead on the way to eliminating the hazardous forms of child labour over the next decade. At a special round-table event to be held from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Brazilian Minister of Labour H.E. Mr. Luis Marinho, the Tanzanian Minister of Labour H.E. Mr. Jumanne Maghembe and the Turkish Minister of labour H.E. Mr. Murat Basesgioglu together with the worker's and employers' representatives of these countries will present their strategies and results obtained in the fight against child labour in their countries. (UNOG Palais des Nations).
Monday 12 June: Roger Milla will "Kick the Ball" against child labour in a friendly match with girls teams from a local football club and an international school. Joining the ceremony prior to the match will be ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, Mr. Federico Addiechi, head of Corporate Social Responsibility of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association FIFA, Dr. Eduardo Missoni, Secretary General, World Organization of the Scout Movement, Ms Nicole Petignat-Mouidi, the only female referee qualified for male international matches and Mr. Carlos Xavier, a football player from Portugal and creator of a football club targeted at child development. (ILO headquarters - 1.00 p.m. - 3 p.m.).
Numerous events, discussions and other activities are planned worldwide to mark the Day and raise awareness about child labour. A march in Port-au-Prince (Haïti), card pinwheels throughout Brazil, a poetry, essay and painting competition in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), a panel discussion about research gaps in Washington, DC. Television and radio programmes, stories of working children reported in newspapers, children performing in drama, song and dance. In more than 100 countries around the world, people are reminded that at least on this one day of the year, they should reflect on the fate of working children.
In Sialkot, Pakistan, where IPEC has been eradicating child labour in the football stitching sector with the support from, among others, FIFA, the link between WDACL and the start of the World Cup will be symbolized with the kick off of the first match in the new ILO-FIFA programme on supporting children's rights through football. Children who used to stitch footballs will now be able to play football. This is the fist step in a development of sport as part of rehabilitation of former child labourers word wide.
Many of the events will focus on discussions of this year's ILO global report entitled "The end of child labour: within reach" which was released last month. The report shows that child labour has decreased worldwide for the first time, dropping by 11 per cent from 246 million to 218 million between 2000 and 2004. The report calls upon Member States to aim at eradicating the worst forms of child labour in a decade from now.
The World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) is observed worldwide on or around 12 June each year. It serves as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour.
For more information about the World Day Against Child Labour, please visit:
MLAs employing child labourers to be punished
BANGALORE: Labour Department officials will inspect the houses of Ministers and MLAs to find out whether they employ child labourers, Labour Minister Iqbal Ansari said on Monday.
Speaking at a programme organised in connection with "World Day against Child Labour", he said action would be taken against those who were found guilty of employing children. "We will conduct surprise checks at houses of Ministers and MLAs. We will go by the code of conduct and take action against them," he said and urged people to report cases of child labour to him.
Mr. Ansari said students who were doing well in "bridge schools" would be rewarded. As many as 311 special schools, funded by the Union and State governments, were imparting education to children rescued from workplaces. The State Government was ready to establish more rehabilitation centres for such children, he added.
Mr. Ansari and hundreds of children took a pledge against child labour at the event.
Sanjiv Kumar, National Project Coordinator, Karnataka Child Labour Project, said that globally, there had been a perceptible decrease in child labour in the past four years owing to awareness campaigns launched by activists and governments.
According to the global report, "Follow-up to the International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work 2006", the number of child labourers declined by 11 per cent across the globe over the past four years. The number of children working in the hazardous sector went down by 33 per cent. However, the agricultural and animal husbandry sectors engaged a large number of children, Mr. Kumar said.
Labour officials from Magadi and Davangere, and residents' associations including the Asian Games Residential Association, Trinity Woods, Temple Apartments Association, Abhishek Apartment Association and Chitramala Resident Association were presented the "Makkala Mithra" award for their efforts to eliminate child labour.
Mr. Ansari said two people who employed 13 child labourers from Bihar had not been arrested. "We are talking to police officers in Bihar and working on the case."
Government of Canada funds project to eliminate the worst forms of child labour
OTTAWA, ONTARIO — To mark June 12, 2006 -- World Day Against Child Labour, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, today announced a grant of $600,000 to the International Labour Organization (ILO) for a project to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labour in four Central American countries. The grant is provided to the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) under Human Resources and Social Development Canada's International Trade and Labour Program. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
"Children are the most precious asset in our families and communities around the world. Their future is everyone's responsibility and they have the right to grow-up in a protected environment, free of exploitation and hazards. Today's funding announcement underscores the Government of Canada's ongoing global commitment to make a difference," said Minister Blackburn.
The ILO established IPEC in 1992 to promote global awareness and assist governments in their efforts to prevent and eliminate child labour. This new project will help to build the capacity of ministries of Labour and workers' and employers' organizations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to develop and implement policies and programs aimed at the prevention and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. Training will be provided to labour inspectors to ensure the effective enforcement and implementation of child labour legislation and regulations, and the withdrawal of children from exploitative and hazardous work.
According to the ILO's recent Global Report, The end of child labour: Within reach, the number of children involved in the worst forms of labour around the world has decreased for the first time across the globe. The findings indicate that between 2000 and 2004, the number of child labourers worldwide fell by 11 per cent, from 246 million to 218 million. The report concludes that if the current pace of decline is maintained and the global momentum to stop child labour continues, child labour could be eliminated, in most of its worst forms, in 10 years.
"This is welcome news, but despite the considerable progress made, international efforts must continue. That is why I am especially pleased that Canada is providing funding for a new project, and I would like to also commend the ILO for their continuous efforts and commitment to eliminate child labour," said Minister Blackburn.
June 12 has been declared as the World Day Against Child Labour by the ILO in order to mobilize people around the world against child labour and its worst forms. It is a day to remember children and to recognize the commitments by governments, individuals, employers, unions and organizations to taking action to eliminate the exploitation of children, and to encourage everyone to continue to make a difference.
Pakistan observes World Day against Child Labour Today
ISLAMABAD: The International Day Against Child Labour will be observed across the world, including Pakistan today, June -12 , Monday.
In this regard, International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education and Ministry of Labour would organize a seminar on “World Day Against Child Labour 2006” here at ILO Auditorium on Monday to mark the day.
Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education Ms Zobaida Jalal, as a chief guest, would highlight the achievements and steps taken by the government for the welfare of children.
It was learnt that each year the World Day Against Child Labour had focused on one of the “Worst Forms of Child labour” starting with the Unconditional Worst Forms such as child trafficking.
This was then followed by child domestic work and then child labour in mining last year.
The day is marked aimed at mobilizing people around the world against child labour and its worst forms, reflecting local cultures and customs, while encouraging the participation of governemnt officials, media persons, civil society and the public at large, officials said.
Parental indiscipline, core of child labour - Boniface
Accra, June 12, GNA - Alhaji Saddique Boniface, Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, on Monday placed parental indiscipline and neglect at the core of child labour in Ghana and called for collaborative efforts for the survival of the Ghanaian child. He observed that child labour had negative political, social and economic repercussions and blamed the society for the perpetuation of the child labour phenomenon.
Alhaji Boniface made the observation in Accra on the occasion of the Fifth World Day against Child Labour and the launch of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) second Global Report in Ghana. The day, held on the theme: "The End of Child Labour: Within Reach", is to bring hope to all who are committed to winning the fight against child labour.
The ILO Global Report, re-launched earlier in May 2006, indicated an 11 per cent decrease in child labour over the last four years with the sharpest decline in the area of hazardous work. It showed that for age group of 5years to 14 years, the decline in hazardous work was 33 per cent. However, it noted that regrettably least progress had been recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the rate of population growth, HIV/AIDS infection and child labour remained alarmingly high.
The worst forms of child labour include child domestic work; fishing; child porters; commercial sexual exploitation; customary or ritual servitude; small- scale mining and quarrying and commercial agriculture. In the urban informal economy, child labourers are found in the transport, traditional restaurants, begging and petty trading.
Alhaji Boniface criticised the use of house-helps at the expense of their education and impressed upon parents that their responsibility was to take good care of their children.
He urged parents to guarantee that their children would not be left at the mercy of nature and providence even in the event of death. "He who brings forth a child and does not make it grow happily is accursed," Alhaji Boniface said, adding that a man had to make sure that his children were better placed in life than himself.
He said God was observing the inhuman treatment of children in the fishing communities in Yeji in the northern part of the country, adding that children needed not to be introduced to the monetary world of work, where it became difficult to withdraw them after they had become used to the influence of money.
Alhaji Boniface listed Government interventions to eliminate child labour, which included provisions of the 1992 Constitution, the Children's Act of 1988 and the Criminal Code and said policy documents such as the Street Children Policy, Policy on Commercial Sex Exploitation were being developed to combat child labour.
Mr Kwame Amporfo Twumasi, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, said child labour affected the academic achievement of a considerable number of children, who combined work and school. He said for the goal of Universal Primary Education to be reached by 2015, Government had stepped up efforts to eliminate child labour. He said Ghana's development framework, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, in link with other international programmes provided a context for an integrated approach to end the involvement of children in exploitative and hazardous child labour.
Mr Twumasi called for the enforcement of both national and international legislations and conventions to eliminate the canker. Ms Yaa Frimpomaa Yeboah, Chief Technical Advisor to International Labour Organisation=92s (ILO's) International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour, said the ILO believed that Ghana could achieve the ILO's target of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 if trends in government activities continued and intensified. She, however, observed that there were great challenges and called for the re-invigoration of the national campaign against child labour. Ms Dorothy Rozga, Resident Representative of United Nations Children's Fund, said according to the 2003 Ghana Child Labour Survey, an estimated 1.2 million children in Ghana were engaged in activities classified as child labour.
Some 240,000 of these Ghanaian children were being exploited in the worst forms of child labour.
Ms Rozga said despite the grim nature of the situation, UNICEF was pleased with national developments in the efforts to combat child labour.
UNICEF statistics: Sri Lanka has 40,000 child prostitutes
The National Child Protection Authority revealed shocking statistics, quoting the UNICEF and ILO, that Sri Lanka has nearly 40,000 child prostitutes in the country while 5,000 to 30,000 Sri Lankan boys are used by Western paedophile sex tourists, as the world celebrates day against child labour today.
Nearly 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas are trafficked and prostituted to paedophiles by organised crime groups, according to the statistics of UNICEF and the ILO.
Though exact numbers are not available with any of the local organisations which function for the protection of child rights, ILO indicates that Sri Lanka has more than 100,000 children working as domestic aids.
The government celebrating the Day on June 7, five days in advance, admitted that no nationwide surveys on child labour had been done in Sri Lanka since 1999 and said some qualitative research points to the fact that there are children trapped in hazardous forms of child labour such as child domestic labour, the fireworks industry, in the informal sector construction industry, motor garages, small business establishments, shops, etc.
“Parliament has passed legislation to give effect to immediately eliminate the worst forms of child labour in keeping with commitments made to implement ILO Convention 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour,” it said in the message issued on June 7 marking the World Day Against Child Labour.
Chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), Padmini Wetthawa, said the plight of Sri Lankan children was in a dire situation as the number of children being trafficked and being forcibly recruited as child soldiers to the LTTE was rising rapidly despite having various awareness programmes.
“This year which was marked as the Children’s Year by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, both Governmental and Non Governmental Organisations should genuinely pay their attention to address the child soldiers’ issue when the whole world is concentrating on combating child labour,” she noted.
“Children are often employed and exploited because, compared to adults, they are more vulnerable, cheaper to hire and are less likely to demand higher wages or better working conditions. Some employers falsely argue that children are particularly suited to certain types of work because of their small size and “nimble fingers”,” said Ms. Wetthawa.
The use of children for alcohol and drug trafficking is a serious problem while the authorities are yet to crack the countrywide network, which deals with child trafficking and prostitution.
“No one actually knows the correct number of child prostitutes and children involved in trafficking,” said NCPA official adding that ground research was yet to be done on these subjects.
The NCPA records a reduction in child labour of 10 to 15 fold following the intensified action by authorities and a wide media campaign against domestic child labour.
“Using children as domestic servants has become a taboo today following the media awareness campaign,” he added.
Accordingly, an unofficial survey conducted by the ILO, showed that nearly 35,000 children were now employed mainly at shops and small factories.
The situation has reached a climax today where the world identifies Sri Lanka as a paedophiles’ paradise. Although the government estimates that there are 2,000 active child prostitutes in the country, private groups claim the number is as high as 40,000.
Most of these children, 80% of whom are boys, are sexually exploited in tourist centres and are trafficked around the country to serve the tourists.
According to the NCPA, many steps such as improvement of public awareness, poverty elimination among sensitive social groups, strict implementation of legal regulations and training of officials and police officers are essential to eliminate sexual exploitation of children.
‘The End of Child Labour: Together We Can Make It’, the International Labour Organisation made it the theme of this year as the World Day Against Child Labour, 2006 falls today, as a part of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) despite having more than 200 million child labourers all over the world.
The World Day against Child Labour was established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2002 to pay more attention to global and local efforts against child labour and highlight the global movement to eliminate the practice, particularly its worst forms. According to the latest report the actual number of child labourers worldwide fell by 11 per cent between 2000 and 2004, from 246 million to 218 million. The report attributed the reduction in child labour to increased political will and awareness and concrete action, particularly in the field of poverty reduction and mass education that has led to a “worldwide movement against child labour”.
Sri Lanka has ratified all eight human rights conventions of the ILO, including the two-core conventions on Child Labour.
The main aim of Convention 182 is to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. It stresses that immediate action is needed to tackle the worst exploitation of children, and that measures taken by the authorities should start as soon as the government is able to follow the ratification.
some of the circumstances faced by child labourers are full time work at a very early age, dangerous workplaces, excessive working hours, subjection to psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, obliged to work by circumstances or individuals, limited or no pay, work and life on the streets in bad conditions and inability to escape from the poverty cycle with no access to education.
The ILO says that most children work because their families are poor and their labour is necessary for their survival. Discrimination on grounds including gender, race or religion also plays its part in why some children work.
Ethnic conflicts too have left many children displaced and abandoned. They are easy prey for ‘job placement agents’ who pick them up on the streets in villages or even from within the refugee camps, and then sell them for employment, most commonly for domestic work.
As well as being a result of poverty, child labour also perpetuates poverty. Many working children do not have the opportunity to go to school and often grow up to be unskilled adults trapped in poorly paid jobs, and in turn will look to their own children to supplement the family’s income, the ILO says.
Sub-Saharan Africa failing fight against child labour
Sub-Saharan Africa has failed to record a significant decrease in child labour, ILO director Gerry Finnegan has said.
Finnegan, who was represented by Brigitte Poulsen during the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), said while the rest of the world had recorded a decline in child labour, sub-Sahara had recorded an increase from 49 million in 2002 to 50 million in 2004.
"It is now estimated that the number of working children reduced from 246 million in 2000 to 218 million in 2004 and the emerging picture is that child labour is declining and that its elimination is within reach," he said.
"At least 50 million children were child workers in 2004 as compared to 49 million in 2002 and more than 25% of African children are at work, leaving sub-Saharan Africa with the largest relative number of child labourers worldwide."
Finnegan attributed the high level of child labour in sub-Saharan Africa to the effects of HIV/Aids, continuously high population growth and high poverty levels.
He said a programme aimed at addressing child labour would be designed by government and ILO in its efforts to address the problem by 2016.
"A national stakeholders workshop is being convened later this month to discuss and plan for the preparation of a time-bound programme towards elimination of worst forms of child labour," Finnegan said.
"The new national estimates to be released by government will help to provide a solid basis for the national efforts to eliminate the scourge."
And education deputy minister Gaston Sichilima expressed concern over the continued increase of defilements despite the high sentences being given to perpetrators.
"We should not bury our heads in the sand because this scourge is very serious and we should come up with serious measures to deter these mad people (defilers)," he said.
Sichilima said the fight against child labour had been boosted by the training of 20 teachers and 210 children in Supporting Children's Rights through Arts, Education and the Media (Scream) activities.
"I am reliably informed that the Scream training will help children to reach out to peers and the community at large and increase their participation in decision making and other issues that are aimed at reducing child labour," he said.
Sichilima said government would scale up Scream based activities by training more teachers and children through a pilot project in Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces.
This year's theme for World Day Against Child Labour is "The end of child labour, together we can do it."
Angola: Government Vows to Punish Child Law Breakers
Angolan Government, through the Ministry of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security (MAPESS), is determined to punish with heavy fines infringements to laws that protect children on the job market.
This was said Monday in Luanda by the head of the Labour general inspector, Bangue Pedro, during a meeting on the World Day Against Child Labour, June 12.
The official said that inspection has been carried out in public, private and legal associations, with fines varying with the nature of the infringement and ranging from five to ten times the base salary.
"These practises must also be corrected on the informal market, because if we continue with children washing cars, carrying load and others, what future will the country have?" he wondered.
In her turn, the director of the National Institute of Employment and Professional Training, Corina Jardim, said her institution has been working to train youths, but many are still away from the right gate on the right time.
She recalled there are training centres in all districts of Luanda and about 22,000 trainees, throughout the country, after completing their training have access to the labour market.
She also spoke of the law on professional training passed this year, saying the youth should be aware of for their best protection.
The meeting organised by the National Children Institute (INAC) is part of the 01-16 June celebrations and is intended to facilitate the integration of youths in professional training programmes and seek solutions to improve and develop the target groups with professional training.
Congo's child miner shame
To commemorate World Day Against Child Labour, BBC News has spent a day with child miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who work for about one dollar per day. At Ruashi mine, in the Eastern province of Katanga, almost 800 children dig for copper and cobalt.
At eight years of age, Decu has never owned a football, or played a video game. He has no computer, and no TV. He's never been to school, though he passes young pupils in uniform every morning, as he sets off for work.
He is a child, born into poverty in what could be one of the richest places in Africa - the Eastern province of Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are vast mineral deposits beneath the soil here, but this treasure trove has always benefited the leaders not the people.
Decu's day begins at dawn. Usually he does not eat, just drinks a little water. Then he sets off on a two-hour walk with his twin, Kaba. Both have torn sweatshirts and trousers with holes. By their side is Cedric, their friend and neighbour, who is 15. He's a quiet boy with an earnest look. He has no shoes, just flip flops on his feet. Cedric used to go to school, but now his family can't afford to send him.
By seven or eight each morning, the boys arrive at Ruashi mines, where huge mounds of red, brown and grey soil scar the landscape. They join the ranks of child miners - close to 800 of them, working alongside fully grown men. It's all unofficial, but it's also highly organised.
We stand at the top of one enormous mound of silky soil, looking down into a crater about 40 metres deep. All the way down there are ghostly-looking figures digging for copper, coated in choking grey dust. There are no safety standards. No-one wears a hard hat. In the midst of all this, there are some boys as young as Decu and Kaba, working with bare hands and bare feet.
Many of the local middlemen prefer to use younger children, because the older boys get paid more. The children here can be as young as five or six.
"We saw boys standing waist deep in toxic water, washing soil away from nuggets of copper. One, Antoine, told us he was ten.
For Cedric and the twins, the first job of the day was sifting away soil from mineral deposits. It was heavy work, especially for Decu. As he worked, he told me he wanted to be like children in Europe. "They go to school," he said. "I saw them on TV. But my father can't afford to pay my school fees. That's why my life is so hard."
As the day wore one the twins dug for nuggets of copper with their bare hands, but didn't find much. A local buyer gave them a few grubby notes, enough for one small pastry each. Cedric moved on to cleaning cobalt with his bare feet, in a lake of toxic water. Between the three of them that day, the boys did not make enough to buy an evening meal.
The new owners of this mine, Metorex Limited from South Africa, would not give us an interview on camera. They inherited the informal miners when they bought the mine. The company says it's a difficult situation because so many local people depend on the mine. A manager at the site told us that they do not condone child labour and, in time, they want all the informal miners out, including the children.
The irony is that without what they can scrabble together at the mine, life for Cedric and the twins might be a lot worse.