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safer child labor lawsEritrea is a country in Africa founded in 1993. It is a fairly new country but has already faced many problems regarding poverty and its impact on the people who call Eritrea home. The poverty rate is roughly 50 percent of its 4.475 million inhabitants. Even before primary school, children often must start working due to the unfortunate circumstances that poverty created. A 2008 study showed that legislation already existed for safer child labor laws, but a 2016 study revealed Eritrea’s government offered very little implementation of these laws. With countless amounts of children in Eritrea’s workforce, the problem is less the actual laws in place, but the enforcement of these laws. Fortunately, Eritrea recently made big steps in furthering legislation for a safer workforce in 2019. Here is an overview of Eritrea’s progression toward safer child labor laws.

Eritrea’s Initial Legislative State

In 2008, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs conducted a study painting a clear picture of the state of child labor in Eritrea. Children in rural Eritrea often work labor-intensive jobs like working in fields, carrying water or collecting wood. Children in urban Eritrea can work as vendors selling cigarettes, gum or newspapers. At this time, there are some child labor laws in place to increase protection and safety. There is a minimum work age of 14. Children aged 14-18 have a daily work limit of 7 hours a day and they can only work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Children under 18 cannot work in hazardous environments. These laws seemed like a positive start for Eritrean children.

The True Picture

In 2016, shocking evidence revealed the scope of the child labor issue in Eritrea. The U.N. released a full-detailed inquiry that determined Eritrea’s government was responsible for not only encouraging child labor, but participating in extrajudicial killings, tortures and sexual slavery. The Eritrean army, the National Security Agency, the president and the police force were all huge factors in worsening child labor conditions. This investigation did not change any legislation and was a major step back in Eritrea’s governmental support toward safer child labor laws.

Recent Progress

On June 3rd, 2019, Eritrea’s government ratified eight important conventions formed by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ratifications exemplify huge progress for the country because it shows signs that there will be better enforcement of safer child labor laws from now on. ILO’s conventions include prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. Eritrea’s goal is to eliminate forced labor and end all forms of child labor by 2025. With the government’s agreement to these eight ratifications, that goal is actually within reach. The future lives of millions of children who live in Eritrea will soon change for the better.
The progression of Eritrea’s government toward safer child labor laws from 2008-2019 has been a struggle. While Eritrea’s government initially appeared to show interest in creating a safer working environment for its children, further research proved how little it really enforced legislation. This year witnessed exceptional progress, lighting the way for a brighter future in safer child labor laws.

– Kat Fries
Photo: Pixabay

Child Labor in Turkey
Child labor in Turkey continues as both an international and domestic issue for the country. Despite Turkish and international community efforts to establish policies and initiatives to prevent child labor and protect the interests of children, child labor persists. The below facts highlight the details of the type of labor children typically perform as well as the efforts the government of Turkey has made to end child labor.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Turkey

  1. Work in Hazelnut Fields: Hazelnut production in Turkey is the largest sector of agricultural production, making up approximately 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural exports. For this reason, many migrant agricultural workers travel along the eastern and western regions of Turkey looking for work during the hazelnut harvesting season. The children of these workers travel with their families and also contribute to the harvest of hazelnuts in Turkey. In 2017, nearly 800,000 children worked in the hazelnut fields. Most children work 11 hour days, seven days a week in the fields.
  2. The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking: The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking is an existing program in Turkey. This program identifies and protects both the victims of child trafficking as well as those children who are at high-risk for trafficking, such as the children of migrant agricultural workers. The high-risk children this program identified are the recipients of additional security precautions that the shelters took in. Victims of human trafficking frequently become migrant agricultural workers.
  3. Children of Syrian Refugees are High-Risk: As the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey continues to grow, so does the number of Syrian families working as migrant agricultural workers. Due to their status within the country of Turkey, many of these laborers work longer hours than those of the Turkish migrant workers and receive lower wages, with children oftentimes earning half of an adult’s wage. The children of the Syrian refugees are at an even higher risk of becoming permanently part of the sector of migrant labor due to lower access to education, discrimination and financial barriers.
  4. Efforts of the Turkish Government to Eradicate Child Labor: The Turkish government has made efforts to combat the high levels of child labor with a variety of government-funded programs. The Conditional Education and Health Care Assistance Program “aims to reduce poverty through cash transfers,” which takes the form of free milk and books given to primary school children. In 2017, approximately 190,000 children benefited from this program. By providing food and educational support, the Turkish government aims to create a learning environment for children where their families feel that they can afford the time for their children to be in school instead of working to earn extra money.
  5. Child labor in Turkey Increased in 2018: Despite the sweeping measures that the Turkish government has taken to prevent and eventually put an end to child labor in Turkey, the number of child laborers saw a marked increase in 2018. The Turkish government made a commitment to the International Labor Organization (ILO) that it would put an end to child labor by 2015, but that has not been the case thus far.
  6. Education Rates of Child Laborers: Due to the long hours that child laborers in Turkey work, they are unable to consistently attend schools in the areas where they work on hazelnut farms. The children also move around too frequently with their families to establish a lasting record at any one school, contributing to these children’s decreased likelihood of school attendance. In addition, the vocational schools that exist in areas that have heavy industry provide an education to children that promotes their continued work in the industrial sphere.
  7. Minimum Age for Child Labor: Turkey has existing laws in place that are to protect children from child labor. There is a minimum age requirement of 15 for agricultural work and a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work. A prohibition of forced labor and child trafficking also currently exists in Turkey. Despite the efforts of the government of Turkey, holes continue to exist in the legal framework that aims to protect children from hazardous child labor.
  8. Effective Enforcement of Existing Child Labor Laws: Though the Turkish government has age limits in place for child labor, as well as a list of light work that the Regulation on the Principles and Procedures Governing the Employment of Children and Young Workers permits, high levels of child labor in Turkey persist. Part of this gap in the legislation and actual protection of child laborers is due in part to the low numbers of inspectors and the classification of agricultural work as light labor. The Regulation on Principles has indicated that the country must legally consider picking fruit and vegetables as light work, therefore placing very few restrictions on migratory agriculture. Despite this, the gaps that exist in the legal framework “may hinder adequate enforcement of [Turkey’s] child labor laws.”
  9. National Program to Combat Child Labor in Turkey: The government of Turkey has made an effort to maintain compliance with international child labor laws. The National Program to Combat Child Labor began in 2017 and is to run until 2023. This program focuses on maintaining surveillance of the labor sectors of migratory agriculture, street work and work performed in small to medium industries to ensure that none of Turkey’s existing child labor laws are in violation.
  10. The Global March Against Child Labour: There are multiple NGOs in the international sphere that are fighting to end child labor worldwide. The Global March Against Child Labour is one such organization with a mission is to “mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free and meaningful education and the right to be free from economic exploitation.” Global March operates through the advocacy of issues to policymakers, raising awareness of child labor around the world and building partnerships with existing organizations such as the International Labour Organization. The Global March has seen success in many of its areas of focus. In 2018, Global March organized the Meet of Parliamentarians Without Borders for Children’s Rights in Brussels, Belgium. At the conclusion of the parliament, in which MPs from Sri Lanka, Benin, Togo, Paraguay, Uganda, Ghana, the Netherlands and Costa Rica attended, all MPs committed to working within their respective parliaments to end child labor in their countries.

Turkey still requires progress to put an end to dangerous and damaging child labor, but the steps that it has made in its own programs, as well as international programs, shows hope for a future for child labor in Turkey. That future includes stronger protection of a child’s right to receive an education and lead a stable life out of the fields.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in The Gambia
The Gambia is not only the smallest country in mainland Africa, but it also continues to be among the poorest. Today, 48 percent of its population of 2.1 million live below the poverty line. One of the many manifestations of the country’s high poverty rate is the prevalence of child labor. These 10 facts about child labor in The Gambia provide a deeper background on the issue.

10 Facts About Child Labor in The Gambia

  1. The Gambia has a young population. Approximately 63 percent of Gambians are under the age of 25, and the median age is 17. About 95 percent of child laborers work in the agriculture sector, but in the capital city, Banjul, it is common to see children under 14 begging, washing cars, selling food, selling newspapers and repairing bicycles. Many of these children are orphans or lack parental care, but others have parents who sent them to trade in the street. Even though 20 percent of children in The Gambia are employed today, this represents a significant improvement from 36 percent in 2013.

  2. Child labor deprives the population of higher education. Gambian law makes the first six years of primary school free and mandatory, and the primary school completion rate is at 70 percent. In 2017, the government participated in the READ (Results for Education Achievement and Development) project funded by the World Bank which improved the quality of basic education in Gambian schools. However, most child laborers between ages 5 and 14 both work and attend school, which hinders their learning experience. Many child workers drop out after primary school or never attend school at all. Many Gambians who have not participated in formal schooling think of it as a waste of time that could be better spent making money for the family’s survival.

  3. The legal working age of The Gambia is 16. For hazardous jobs, it is age 18. Yet, children often have to work to support their families’ income, and the government rarely conducts inspections. Boys in urban areas work as shoe-shiners or street-sweepers and some undertake more hazardous jobs, like hauling heavy objects, that could lead to future health problems. Girls commonly work in domestic service, or as street vendors selling fruit, water or candy. Both girls and boys in rural areas work on farms. Children between the ages of 14 and 16 commonly work in physical-labor industries like lumbering, sewing, brick-making or masonry, often for exhausting hours in unethical or unsafe conditions.

  4. Forced child marriage often translates into child labor. As of 2016, the legal age of marriage in The Gambia is 18. However, poverty incentivizes families to follow the cultural tradition of early marriage. Families sell about 30 percent of girls under 18 into marriage in exchange for livestock and other material goods that can help their families. About 9 percent become married before age 15. Child brides come from poor families in rural areas with little or no formal education, and they generally begin working in harsh conditions in industries such as agriculture.

  5. Child labor can lead to human trafficking. Child laborers in The Gambia are vulnerable to exploitation, including child prostitution, child pornography and sex tourism. Sexual exploitation in schools was once widespread but has significantly diminished thanks to the work of organizations like the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons. But cases of teachers forcing into students, especially girls, into sexual acts in exchange for compensation still exist today.

  6. There has been a recent resurgence of female genital mutilation in The Gambia. FGM causes serious medical consequences for women and girls. Since females usually receive FGM before puberty, female child laborers can suffer even more dangerous effects. The Gambia’s government outlawed FGM in 2015. But with the return of democracy to the country, many are returning to this tradition of female circumcision that is still a significant part of Gambian society. The harmful practice is especially prevalent in rural regions, like Basse, where 96 percent of between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM. Organizations such as UNICEF and 28 Too Many are working to eradicate FGM in the country.

  7. The Gambia is a popular destination for refugees and immigrants escaping conflict in neighboring countries like Senegal. This leads to a greater risk of unaccompanied children in the country, who are vulnerable to forced labor and other forms of abuse. Evidence shows that traffickers traffick children to and from adjacent countries for commercial or sexual exploitation.

  8. In 2016 and 2017, The Gambia’s government made efforts to address the problem of child labor by launching policies designed to target the “worst forms of child labor.” The government created agencies responsible for enforcing these laws relating to child labor, including the Child Protection Alliance, The Gambia Police Force Child Welfare Unit and the Department of Social Welfare. The Gambia Tourism Board and the Tourism Security Unit combat sexual exploitation of children by preventing unaccompanied children from entering tourist areas. The National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons investigates child trafficking cases. Neighborhood watch groups and child protection committees have formed to monitor urban areas and report cases of child labor to the police.

  9. The International Labor Organization, (ILO) has helped pass acts of legislation aimed at reducing child labor in The Gambia. Efforts include the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act in 2007, the Children’s Act in 2005 and the Children’s Court Rules Act of 2010. In 2010, the ILO facilitated the Decent Work Country Programme for The Gambia, collaborating with the Government of The Gambia and its social partners. The program included training workshops that covered the rights of workers, social protection, and social dialogue, with the overall goal of implementing a system of decent work for expanding the economy and reducing poverty.

  10. UNICEF has been working closely with the Gambian government to eliminate child labor and other abuses of children’s rights. UNICEF aided the enactment of the Children’s Act legislation that stemmed originally from the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of a Child in 1990. In 2013, UNICEF supported the world’s first national child protection system mapping and assessment, which included introducing a juvenile justice training for police and making children’s courts more child-friendly. UNICEF’s other work in The Gambia includes an FGM Plan of Action, a Gender-Based Violence Plan of Action and a communication strategy program to combat wife-beating.

The above 10 facts about child labor in The Gambia show both the progress made and the need for more action to solve this complex problem. With the help of foreign aid and the aforementioned nonprofit organizations, the Gambian government will continue to search for solutions to ending child labor.

Sarah Newgarden
Photo: Flickr

World Day Against Child Labor
June 12 is World Day Against Child Labor, organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to raise awareness about the depth and dangers of child labor throughout the world. This event takes places in multiple cities all over the globe in an effort to mobilize large numbers of people against the atrocities of child labor.

World Day Against Child Labor

However, despite the fact that World Day Against Child Labor was created in reaction to a devastating and damaging practice, this day has become a positive one. World Day Against Child Labor, conducted by the ILO, takes specific actions to reduce child labor and work with systems that perpetuate it, such as employers and large corporations; this international day calls to mind the changes and benefits made so far.

The World Day Against Child Labor was created in order to bring light to the fact that more than 168 million children are child laborers. This statistic becomes even more drastic — over 84 million child laborers are employed in hazardous and unhealthy working conditions.

Every year on June 12, the ILO works to enlighten those in positions of power to the extent and depth of this issue, with the hopes of inciting change. One of the organization’s goals is to end all forms of child labor by 2025. The ILO takes ambitious and successful steps through its employees in order to bring about progress.

The International Labor Organization

Most of ILO’s actions against child labor take place directly in geographic regions with the most trouble with child labor. The ILO has found that “72.1 million children [are employed] in Africa, 62.1 million in Asia and the Pacific, 10.7 million in the Americas, 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.”

The ILO’s projects entail 90 percent of staff members to work directly in the most affected nations. Many of these staff members work with victims of child labor in support groups to help in abuse recovery. Their employees also work with parents and relatives of child laborers to better understand the causes, conditions and effects of child labor, as told directly by those that see it firsthand.

Additionally, ILO employees on the headquarters staff engage in projects to gather data, research and evaluations so as to become fully informed on major issues. This attention to detail helps the ILO gain accurate, proven data to display at events such as the World Day Against Child Labor. These efforts support legislation and policy development, advocacy and awareness raising, institutional development and social services.

ILO Convention No. 182

One of ILO’s major projects is “ILO Convention No. 182,” and countries that ratify this Convention are required to immediately take action to prohibit child labor. The nations are given a time frame restriction to prevent the engagement of children in labor, provide direct assistance to remove children, rehabilitate and socially integrate former laborers, ensure access to free education and vocational training, reach out to children at special risk, and take consideration for female laborers in special conditions.

Another important project ILO implemented is an effort to work with companies and corporations concerned about child labor in their workforce. This project is titled Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Child Labor. Many companies are concerned about the morality of employing children, as well as the company’s public image.

The ILO’s project with CSR and Child Labor involves supporting businesses’ efforts to increase compliance with the ILO’s standards, particularly their most important standard — Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age.

Accomplishments For Children Everywhere

All of these efforts have culminated in various accomplishments for the ILO since its inception in 1919. In 1969, the ILO was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize due to its success in reducing the rate of child labor within 50 years. The ILO’s data collection efforts allowed it to publish “The Code of Practice on HIV and the World of Work” in 2001, which was distributed in 30 languages.

One of the organization’s greatest achievements, however, was the implementation of the International Labor Code in June 2008 geared towards setting standards. This document lists the various Conventions of the ILO that sets guidelines and instructions for corporations as well as entire nations. These standards are used daily by those that join the ILO in its efforts to end child labor.

The World Day Against Child Labor is a culmination of the ILO’s goals, projects and accomplishments. Each year, The World Day Against Child Labor is successful in educating more international citizens, business owners, politicians and victims on how the atrocities of child labor can finally be stopped.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr


The International Labor Organization (ILO) is exploring what the future of work will look like around the world.

ILO hosted a global dialogue in early April to discuss the future of work and how various aspects of today’s world such as climate change, technological innovation and shifts in poverty affect labor. In addition, the Leaders Forum of the annual ILO conference will focus on the future of work. The conference is scheduled for June 5-17, 2017.

The ILO has seven initiatives to implement by 2019 to celebrate its 100-year anniversary. The director-general set these initiatives in 2013, to plan for challenges that face international labor. These include the future of work initiative, the end to poverty initiative, the women at work initiative, the green initiative, the standards initiative, the enterprises initiative and the governance initiative.

The future of work initiative will examine trends and issues that explore the challenges the workforce will face over the next century. The end to poverty initiative will help implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The women at work initiative will work toward equality of women in the workplace. The green initiative will focus on environmentally sustainable employment. The standards initiative will focus on revising international labor standards. The enterprises initiative will work with enterprises in the private sector in all regions of the world. The governance initiative will reform the ILO leadership structure, the International Labour Conference, regional meetings and evaluate the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization

Formed in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, ILO is founded on the values of social justice and human rights. The organization’s first members included Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. The organization, originally affiliated with the League of Nations, became a part of the first specialized agency of the U.N. in 1946. Today, the organization has 187 member states.

In 2017, the ILO is putting together a High-Level Commission on the future of work. In 2018, the commission is scheduled to publish a report and recommendations. At the 2019 ILO Conference, member states may adopt a Centenary Declaration.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Development Strategies
Beginning Jan. 30, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum provided a stage to engage youth in sustainable development dialogue with the Member States and to share their experiences and approaches to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In his opening remarks at the two-day event, Peter Thomson, President of the 71st U.N. General Assembly, emphasized the role of today’s youth in global development strategies.

“Our best chance of achieving the transformation to a sustainable way of life must lie in ensuring that young people are fully engaged and that they are empowered as innovators in our development processes,” he said.

He went on to say in the “Assembly Achieving the SDGs: Harnessing the Power of Youth” panel that young people should also consider their involvement in global development an investment for their generation’s future wellbeing.

“Youth will be the adults of tomorrow when the 2030 agenda comes about,” Thomson said. “So everything we’re working on at the moment is in a way more relevant to youth than the people of my generation.”

During “The Role of Youth in Promoting Food Security and Zero Hunger” panel on Jan. 31, Alpha Sennon, founder of Trinidad and Tobago‘s youth-centric agriculture program WhyFarm, highlighted some methods to promoting sustainable food security to youth. Examples include exposing younger children to pro-sustainability art and music.

“If we could get young people to sing these positive lyrics, it would have an impact on what they do, what they want to become when they grow up, simple actions,” he said.

In regards to older youths, Sennon said the best way to get teens involved in agricultural development initiatives is to appeal to their pre-existing interests and skill sets.

“If you already have a skill… we will take that skill and make you an entrepreneur for agriculture and food security,” he said. “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s make it spin.”

Working with youth in sustainable development is especially relevant considering how unemployment, underemployment and inequality disproportionately affect youth. According to the International Labor Organization, 37.7 percent of working youth are in extreme or moderate poverty, compared to 26 percent of working adults.

An ECOSOC Youth Forum side event entitled “Education and Poverty Eradication: NGO Youth Leaders at the Forefront” also convened on Jan. 31. The session included an interactive trivia panel regarding SDG Goals 1 and 4, which pertain to global poverty and education.

During the panel, Radja Benmansour, an intern at Department of Public Information and NGO Relations, stressed the importance of treating young people as equals when addressing youth in sustainable development.

“To get youth involved, you first need conversations, and you need to be persistent,” she said. “Another way is to ask what they want to see changed in their communities. Not only have them be actors but have them be the main solution makers.”

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Youth in Gaza
The ongoing power struggle between the Israeli government and Hamas has adversely affected youth in Gaza. The situation has been exacerbating since the 2007 Israeli blockade on the Gaza strip. Moreover, youth unemployment rates have risen to a staggering 60 percent, with a nearly 80 percent dependency on foreign aid.

An analysis conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) accentuates that the youth in Gaza working between the ages of 10-17 has soared to 9,700. Many are below the legal age of 15, and this figure is presumed to be much more in reality.

With rising food prices and varying degrees of income disparity over the years, the plight of the youth has only intensified. The deficiency in the labor market has made it difficult for people to find work. As a result, young children work for meagre amounts to support their families, without even the basic provision of insurance.

“I have to work to earn extra money – my father is ill, and my mum has no food for us,” exclaims 7-year-old Imad Awadallah.

Humanitarian aid has benefited many young children, but the British government’s recent probe into Palestinian authorities may show a prolonged misuse of this aid.

SOS Children’s Villages has been providing care and early education to young children in Rafah since 1999. Their youth home has also helped young people with basic training to adjust to the challenges that adult life entails.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has also provided outstanding education in Gaza for the past few years. For three years, the El-Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation has been spearheading the push for children’s rights. They visit families and highlight the vitality of education through seminars and sessions.

It is imperative to ensure mobility and efficiency in the provision of aid. While channeling humanitarian aid, collaboration with the Palestinian government is necessary.

Countries in the region have reached out to those impoverished children. Notably, an envoy from the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization arrived on June 16 with medical supplies. Also, many in Karara will receive help through the Turkish Crescent’s inception of the first aid station.

Moreover, the initiatives organized by Gaza’s Social Affairs Ministry of Labor will enhance a variety of skills, such as sewing and carpentry, which will help make the youth more self- sufficient. Thus, there should be an increased propensity to remain in school–increasing literacy rates are vital to increase the diversity of the labor market.

The deployment of peacekeepers serves a dual purpose: 1) It is a necessary precaution to ensure the steady flow of aid and 2) it protects vulnerable groups (such as young children) in the more turbulent areas. Aid workers must also be well trained and experienced to safeguard the interests of the children.

Businesses that use exploitation and child labor have the potential to be blacklisted by the U.N., as it is a violation. Potential creditors must also refrain from investing in such businesses.

Considering the revolts in 2014, a possible cessation of hostilities between the Hamas and Israeli government is indefinite. However, we can create awareness by supporting NGOs like Save the Children and Islamic Relief USA. Alleviating the harsh situations faced by the youth in Gaza will positively impact all involved.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Child Labor Laws
On World Day, June 12, the U.N. announced a renewed focus on child labor laws and supply chains. With so many children working, the U.N. says that all supply chains potentially use child labor.

Child labor encompasses “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.”

The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the U.N. have declared that nations must pass legislation in order to make lasting change. National governments need to adopt and enforce legislation that defines child labor and protects children against it.

Don’t child labor laws already exist?

Yes: ILO Convention No.182 helps to define the worst forms of child labor and makes a long term goal of the effective elimination of the issue. Also, Convention No. 138 sets the legal age at which a child may begin working.

For most member states of the U.N., the basic minimum age of labor is 15, with the possible exception of 14-year-olds in developing nations. The ILO stresses that no person under the age of 18 should be doing hazardous labor.

Considering that Convention No. 138 was written in 1973 and No. 182 in 1999, the goal of ending child labor is by no means a new one.

While conditions have improved since the inception of these conventions, 215 million children still take part in child labor today. Their employers often force them to work in the drug or sex trafficking industries. Some of these children are even forced to tote a gun and kill others.

Because child laborers number in the hundreds of millions, eradication may seem impossible. Fortunately, however, the numbers are dropping.

As more nations adopt the ILO’s conventions on child labor, the problem continues to diminish. In 2000, only 93 countries had ratified Convention No. 138 and  established a minimum age for child labor.

That same year, some 16 percent of children aged 5-17 were exposed to child labor worldwide. The most recent statistics from 2014 show that the number has dropped to 13.9 percent.

As the number of countries that have ratified Convention No. 138 jumps to 169, these small improvements will continue to grow in power and significance.

The real improvement comes with the ratification of Convention No. 182. Since 1999, hazardous child labor has dropped from an estimated 171 million children in 2000 to 85 million today. In addition, 180 countries have ratified this convention.

Ratification of these child labor laws and conventions has been effective in diminishing the problem, but it has not been enough to eradicate child labor.

In order to enforce child labor laws, governments must raise awareness of the problem. In addition, they must enact laws that enforce minimum working age and acceptable working conditions for children.

With World Day’s focus on child labor and its ensuing push for enforcement of ILO Conventions 182 and 138, world leaders will work to decrease the number of child laborers over the coming years.

-Aaron Parr

Photo: Pixabay

global poverty levels

The International Labor Organization (ILO) released a new report, “World Employment and Social Outlook 2016 – Transforming Jobs to End Poverty”, which assesses current global poverty levels. Director-General Guy Ryder states that poverty continues to remain frustratingly high in Africa and parts of Asia.

“For example, more than 40 percent of the African population continues to live in extreme poverty and some 64 percent in extreme or moderate poverty. Another element, which I think we have to pay attention to, is the fact that in the developed world, there has been an increase, an absolute increase in poverty, notably in this continent of Europe.”

According to the ILO, this is most likely due to the high number of refugees seeking comfort in Europe in the past few years.

Income inequality is becoming a bigger problem in these regions, cautions Ryder. After years of decline, the disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is currently expanding and slowly turning the wheel of the socioeconomic inequality cycle.

“In addition, the ability of growth to reduce poverty is compromised by the inequitable income distribution, showing that the rich are taking a disproportionately high share of the benefits of growth and, in a way, could be considered partly responsible for this perpetuation of poverty.”

Despite Ryder’s precautions however, global poverty levels are the lowest they have been in history. Vast advances have been made in China and a majority of Latin America.

ILO approximates the number of people living in extreme poverty in 107 emerging and developing countries, with incomes of less than $2 a day, has dropped from 50 percent in 1990 to roughly under 15 percent in 2012. If this trend continues, poverty levels should continue to drop in the future.

The ILO continues to work with the United Nations to eradicate poverty worldwide. A study performed by ILO revealed an estimated $10 trillion will be needed to eliminate extreme and moderate poverty all across the nations by 2030. ILO also stated, “Quality jobs that provide social protection must play a central role to end poverty.”

Rachel Hutchinson

Zambia_Children_HealthThe International Labor Organization (ILO) has launched an innovative new pilot program to improve access to vocational training and employment for young people with disabilities in Zambia. ILO has been working with the Zambian government since 2012 to make training institutions more inclusive, and this new program will augment that effort.

Zambia currently has 300 vocational training institutions serving over 33,600 students, but ability-based discrimination during enrollment has lead to high levels of exclusion and unemployment for many young people. ILO hopes this program will change that.

“The program will give young people with disabilities the skills they need to enter the open labor market,” the report read.

ILO currently audits training institutions against international standards to identify barriers to entry, ease of campus accessibility and adaptability of curricula for students with special needs. Recommendations are then made to the colleges to make improvements.

Instructors also undergo disability awareness training that includes not only insight into the physical limitations of students but also ways in which students are hindered by societal attitudes and stigma. Instructors are then supported in finding ways to overcome these obstacles.

Under the new pilot program, 20 teachers at five training institutions will take courses on how to build inclusive educational environments, and they will become certified to train other teachers, creating a sustainable education model. Training for new teachers will also be redesigned to include disability inclusion from the outset.

Partner colleges have embraced these efforts. “Our goal is to be a fully inclusive vocational training institution within three to five years,” said Samuel Mayo, Chief Executive of Lusaka Technical and Business College.

But discrimination continues beyond education into working life in Zambia, where over 45 percent of young people with disabilities are unemployed. Employers hesitate to hire these candidates because they incorrectly assume there will be costs associated with doing so. They might also assume that these candidates will require complicated special accommodations, which has also proven to be untrue.

In response, ILO held a roundtable discussion on the business-case benefits of hiring qualified candidates regardless of ability. The event brought in 50 representatives from private companies and launched the formation of the Zambia Business and Disability Network, which now works to build capacity for inclusive hiring practices among employers.

While the organization works primarily with business leaders to foster inclusive workplace attitudes, it has also partnered with hiring agencies to develop skills and confidence for candidates of all abilities.

ILO is confident that this program’s sustainable model will allow it to have a broader impact outside of Zambia. “By being both a source and a catalyst of knowledge-sharing and innovation, the ILO program is helping countries around the world achieve better results for men and women with disabilities,” they say.

Ron Minard

Sources: ILO, UN, WHO
Photo: Flickr