World Days instituted by the United Nations draw attention to problems and challenges humanity faces. 12 June is World Day Against Child Labour.
The theme of this year’s World Day Against Child Labour is: “In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labour.”
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that worldwide 168 million children are engaged in child labour of whom a significant number have been pushed into child labour by conflicts and disasters. An estimated 85 million children work in hazardous labour, conditions that could result in a child being killed, injured or made ill as a result of poor safety and health standards and working arrangements.
There are 78 million child labourers in the Asia and Pacific region – almost one in 10 children. There are 59 million in sub-Saharan Africa (one in five), 13 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and 9.2 million in the Middle East and North Africa.
There are many reasons why children work. A major one is poverty – families do not have enough money to feed and look after their children or pay their school fees, so they have to to find jobs. Businesses will often employ children because they don’t have to pay them very high wages or look after them properly.
“Children in areas affected by conflict and disasters are among the most vulnerable. No child must be left behind.” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in his statement for World Day Against Child Labour.