International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour – Director’s Statement

In this International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, we welcome the renewed effort by international agencies, civil society organisations and countries to put the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7 back at the top of the agenda.

“Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms” – SDG Target 8.7

Yet, while we are pleased to see that child labour remains in steady decline, we are particularly conscious of those in the Worst Forms of Child Labour. It is impossible to ignore that fact that while 152 million children worldwide are in child labour, there are 73 million in hazardous work.

Millions of children work in the heat of the sun, with chemicals and dangerous machinery, 12-16 hours a day – sometimes every day, or through the nights. Their vulnerability has been radically amplified by Covid-19. For these children just transitioning from Worst Forms of Child Labour to Child Labour would be a huge step forward.

We know that the reasons children end up in such dangerous and hazardous forms of labour are complex. A complex problem requires an innovative solution – we need to understand the drivers pushing children into these lives before we can move forward.

The Child Labour: Innovation-Research-Action in South and South-Eastern Asia Consortium is working in Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and with these children to understand their lives and to develop sustainable solutions to the problems that they face. Underpinning our approach is the fundamental principle that children are the experts on their own realities, we are unlikely to find solutions if we don’t include them in shaping policies and programmes.

January 21, 2021
Danny Burns