World Day Against Child Labour 2024: Theme, History, Significance, Data and Prevalence

 

The World Day Against Child Labour is observed on June 12, 2024. We are going to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the occasion this year. It was adopted in the year 1999. Every year on June 12, the International Labour Organization (ILO) collaborates with partners worldwide to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour. This year, the focus is on celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, the first ILO Convention was universally ratified in 2020. The day highlights the importance of ratifying and implementing ILO Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Employment. Despite past progress, recent setbacks call for united efforts to end child labour in all forms.

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Global Increase in Child Labour

For nearly two decades since 2000, the world made steady progress in reducing child labour. However, conflicts, crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic have recently forced more families into poverty, pushing millions more children into child labour. Economic growth has not been inclusive enough to relieve the pressures families face, leading them to resort to child labour. Today, 160 million children are still engaged in child labour, representing almost one in ten children worldwide.

 

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Regional Statistics on Child Labour

Africa has the highest percentage of children in child labour, with one-fifth of all children, totaling 72 million. Asia and the Pacific follow, with 7% of children, or 62 million. Together, these regions account for nearly nine out of every ten children in child labour globally. The Americas have 11 million children in child labour, Europe and Central Asia have 6 million, and the Arab States have 1 million. While low-income countries have the highest percentages, middle-income countries have more children in absolute numbers, with 84 million children in child labour, accounting for 56% of the global total.

 

The Theme for 2024: End Child Labour Now!

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour, on June 12, 2024, focuses on the theme “Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labour!” This day celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999, No. 182). It also urges everyone to improve the implementation of two key Conventions on child labour: Convention No. 182 and Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Employment. Despite progress, recent setbacks highlight the urgent need to unite and act to eliminate child labour.

 

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History of World Day Against Child Labour

The International Labour Organization (ILO) established the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, 2002, at its headquarters in Geneva. This initiative aimed to draw constant attention to the issue of child labour and revise strategies to eliminate it. Since its inception, this day has brought together various stakeholders to address and combat child labour. The United Nations General Assembly recognized the severity of child labour and declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, urging the ILO to lead its implementation. Over the years, this observance has been pivotal in mobilizing efforts to end child labour globally.

 

Prevalence of Child Labour

Around the world, children are often involved in work that is not harmful to them. However, they are considered child labourers when they are too young to work or engaged in hazardous activities that can harm their physical, mental, social, or educational development. In the least developed countries, more than one in four children aged 5 to 17 are involved in such detrimental labour. Africa has the highest percentage and absolute number of child labourers, with one-fifth of its children, or 72 million, in child labour. Asia and the Pacific follow, with 7% of all children, totalling 62 million.

 

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Call to Action for Ending Child Labour

With Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, the global community committed to ending child labour in all forms by 2025. This World Day calls for effective action to implement ILO Convention No. 182 and renewed efforts at all levels to address child labour’s root causes. It also stresses the importance of universal ratification and enforcement of ILO Convention No. 138. Together, these measures aim to provide all children with legal protection against child labour and make its elimination a reality.

 

What Data is showing on Child Labour?

  • 152 million children aged 5-17 are in child labour, with 73 million in hazardous conditions.
  • Age Distribution: 48% are 5-11 years old, 28% are 12-14 years old, and 24% are 15-17 years old.
  • Sector Concentration:
  • Agriculture: 71% (including fishing, forestry, livestock herding, and aquaculture)
  • Services: 17%
  • Industrial: 12% (including mining)

 

Significance of World Day Against Child Labour

The World Day Against Child Labour, observed every June 12, plays a crucial role in highlighting the global issue of child labour. This day aims to promote and expand the call to end child labour, drawing attention to the millions of children deprived of education, health, and basic freedoms. Governments, local authorities, civil society, and international organizations come together to address this problem. They work to create guidelines and strategies to support child labourers and ensure their rights are protected. By uniting efforts, the global community strives to eliminate child labour in all its forms and provide a better future for children.

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Accelerate Action to End Child Labour

With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, the global community committed to ending child labour by 2025. Governments worldwide have ratified key ILO Conventions and are dedicated to their implementation. The Durban Call to Action from the 2022 Global Conference provides a clear roadmap. Now is the time to accelerate efforts and make the elimination of child labour a reality. Let’s join forces to protect every child’s right to a safe and healthy childhood.

 

Conclusion: Regional and Economic Impact on Child Labour

Together, Africa, Asia and the Pacific account for nearly nine out of ten child labourers worldwide. The remaining child labour population is distributed among the Americas (11 million), Europe and Central Asia (6 million), and the Arab States (1 million). In the Americas, 5% of children are in child labour, while in Europe and Central Asia, it is 4%, and 3% in the Arab States. Although low-income countries have the highest percentages of child labour, middle-income countries have a greater number of child labourers, with 84 million children, making up 56% of the global total, and an additional 2 million in high-income countries.

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