World Day against Child Labour is observed by the International Labour Organization, an agency under the United Nations, to combat child labor throughout the world. Established by the ILO in 2002, world day against child labor is observed on 12th June every year.
At the core of the idea is ILO’s intention to fight against all the forms of child labor throughout the world and make every possible effort to provide all the children a conducive and healthy environment to grow.
The day is jointly observed by the governments, private sector, labor organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other relevant bodies, to tackle the problem of child labor throughout the world and take necessary policy measures in this regard.
World Day against Child Labour 2019
World Day against Child Labour 2019 was celebrated on Wednesday, 12th June 2019.
The main theme of the World Day against Child Labour 2019 was “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams”. Its main aim was to work for the development of children working in agriculture sector throughout the world.
Since its establishment in 1919, the International Labour Organization has fostered the idea of social justice and a conducive environment to work. This year the ILO celebrated the 100th year of its inception.
The International Labour Organization retrospect on its achievements of the past 100 years in countries it had worked to propagate social justice and eliminate child labor.
This year the International Labour Organization called for the complete acceptance of convention numbers 138 and 182 by all its member states. It was also aimed at promoting the 2014 convention against forced labor which protects the rights of both children and adults.
Many programs and events were conducted across the globe on the occasion to raise awareness on the rights of the children. Child activists across the world emphasized to stop child labor and to promote the education of the children.
What Constitutes Child Labour?
International Labour Organization specifically defines child labor as – “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental health”.
Though, the work that makes children skilled and instills positive development in them is not considered as child labor; however, such work shouldn’t deprive the children of their right to education and dignified living.
The International Labour Organization has defined child labor as a work that has physically, mentally and socially damaging consequences on the children. Any work interfering with the schooling of the children is also termed as child labor and is broadly categorized into three forms – work depriving the children of the opportunity to attend school; work that obliges the children to leave school at an early age and work that requires the children to attend school along with heavy workload.
World Day against Child Labour – History
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was established in 1919, with the mandate to promote social justice and setup International Labour standards. The ILO has 187 member states, out of which 186 are also the member states of the United Nations and the 187th member is Cook Island (south pacific).
Since its inception, the ILO has passed many conventions aimed at improving the condition of laborers across the world, by giving guidelines on matters like wages, working hours, favorable environment, etc.
The 2002 launch of “World Day against Child Labour” was encouraged by the conventions number 138 and 182, by the International Labour Organization.
ILO convention number 138 was adopted in 1973 and concerned the minimum age for employment. It stressed upon the member states to raise the minimum age of employment and to abolish child labor.
The ILO convention number 182 was adopted in 1999. It is also called “Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention” as it was aimed at taking necessary and immediate action to eliminate the worst form of child labor.
Need of the Campaign “World Day against Child Labour”
Children are the future; the economic and social fate of the world depends on the children of today. The statics, however, reveals a grim picture by estimating the total number of child laborers across the world to be 152 million. Moreover, the numbers include children working in almost all the sector like – transportation, agriculture, small scale industries, non registered factories, unorganized sectors, etc.
Nearly half of these numbers of children are forced to work in sectors constituting the worst forms of child labor. These worst forms of child labor include slavery, prostitution, armed conflict, and drug trafficking, etc.
When a child is employed as labor, she/he is deprived of education and has to work in an environment harmful for physical and mental growth. Child labor also deprives the children of any basic fundamental rights that must have been provided to them at all costs.
There is a strong correlation between child labor and poverty, conflicts and refugee situations. Children in underdeveloped or developing economies are forced to work at an early age to supplement their family’s income. Some of the top ten countries facing the problem of child labor are – Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Even the countries fairing well on economic grounds like India, China and Russia are at a high risk of widespread child labor due to poor enforcement of child and labor laws.
Moreover, to eliminate child labor is one of the prime targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG goal) number 8. SDG goal number 8 relates to “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. The 7th target under SDG 8 is thus read – “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst form of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms”.
How is “World Day against Child Labour” Observed?
The world Day against Child Labour enjoys wide support by the governments, labor organizations, UN agencies and various other private and semi-government organizations throughout the world.
Every year a specific theme is assigned by the International Labour Organization related to various aspects of child labor. Efforts are made by the ILO, member states, the United Nations and other governments to increase the number of stakeholders in the fight to eliminate child labor.
The International Labor Organization gives guidelines to the nations and suggests policy initiatives to tackle the problem of child labor. The support network including government staff, NGOs and volunteers reach out to the children, at the high risk of child labor or those already working as child labor.
Children at high risk of child labor or those already in it, are prevented from child labor, through counseling their parents and providing benefits mandated by the government.
Eliminating child labor from throughout the world is a colossal task and a pretty expensive one too. A good amount of progress made, therefore relies on the donations made by stakeholders and other concerned organizations. Every possible effort is made by the concerned governments and organizations to raise the budgetary allocation for the program and also to invoke donations.
Significance of “World Day against Child Labour”
“World Day against Child Labour” is vital for achieving the UN propagated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It is also significant in reaching target number 7 under SDG goal number 8 (decent work and Economic Growth).
The returns on efforts made by ILO and other relevant organizations in eliminating child labor are incalculable. The children, who get out of child labor, are able to realize their true potential and self-worth. They begin to enjoy the fruits of basic human rights living a life of dignity and growth.
Such children in the longer run immensely contribute to the economic and social growth of a nation as well as that of the world.
Themes of World Day against Child Labour
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2019 – “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!”
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2018 – “Generation Safe and Healthy”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2017 – “In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2016 – “End child labor in supply chains – It’s everyone’s business!”
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2015 – “NO to child labor – YES to quality education!”
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2014 – “Extend social protection: combat child labor!”
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2013 – “No to child labor in domestic work”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2012 – “Human rights and social justice…let’s end child labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2011 – “Warning! Children in hazardous work!”
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2010 – “Go for the goal…end child labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2009 – “Give girls a chance: End child labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2008 – “Education: The right response to child labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2007 – “Child labor and agriculture”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2006 – “The end of child labor: together we can do it”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2005 – “A load too heavy: child labor in mining and quarrying”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2004 – “Behind closed doors: Child domestic labor”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2003 – “Trafficking in children”.
- World Day against Child Labour Theme 2002 – “A future without child labor”.