(MissionNewswire) Ten years ago, the International Labor Organization (ILO) established June 12 as World Day Against Child Labor. The ILO, an agency of the United Nations, says on its website: “Hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights.” The World Day Against Child Labor was launched as a way to highlight the plight of these children and support governments and social organizations in their campaigns against child labor.
The World Day calls for:
- Universal ratification of the ILO’s Conventions on child labor (and of all ILO core Conventions)
- National policies and programs to ensure effective progress in the elimination of child labor
- Action to build the worldwide movement against child labor
As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has stressed, “The exploitation of children anywhere should be a concern to people everywhere.” Children in situations of exploitative child labor are deprived education, and lack the opportunities to rise to their full potential and lift themselves, their families and their communities out of a cycle of poverty.
This year, the World Day Against Child Labor provided a spotlight on the right of all children to be protected from child labor and from other violations of fundamental human rights. Children enjoy the same human rights accorded to all people. But lacking the knowledge, experience or physical development of adults and the power to defend their own interests in an adult world, they also have distinct rights to protection by virtue of their age.
- In 2010, the international community adopted a Roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by 2016.
- Some 215 million children across the world are still trapped in child labor and it is estimated that 5 million children are in forced labor.
- In Asia and the Pacific, child labor is declining but the region has the most child laborers ages 5-17 (113.6 million, more than 48 million of them in hazardous work.
- There continues to be a need for specific future actions: strengthening workplace safety and health for all workers with specific safeguards for children between the minimum age for admission to employment and the age of 18.
The awareness day was recognized by countries and leaders around the world, many of which stated that education is the key to ending child labor and protecting youth.
“Education is a critical response to child labor and youth employment issues in Indonesia,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Indonesia. “If the number of children in work is to be reduced and their prospects when they do enter the workforce in later years are to be improved, investment in education at every level – from pre-school programs to vocational training—is essential.”
Salesian programs in more than 130 countries around the globe—including Indonesia—are providing such education and vocational training. Widely considered the world’s largest private provider of vocational and technical education, the Salesians focus on changing the course of a young person’s future by providing opportunity.
“Ending child labor will be the work of those providing better opportunities,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “And those better opportunities come from access to education.”