Child Labour is defined as ‘work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.’
This day was launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2002 to call for worldwide efforts to recognise child labour and the need to eliminate it. This brings governments, companies, social activists and concerned people from around the world to highlight the flight of children who are compelled to work and the efforts made to not just eliminate the social menace but return the innocence of their childhood.
There are an estimated 168 million children around the world who are involved child labour and at least 70 million of them are below the age of 10.
This year the focus on the day is on child labour and supply chains, which includes agriculture, manufacturing and the services industry.
Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General has said that:
“Child labour has no place in well-functioning and well regulated markets, or in any supply chain. The message that we must act now to stop child labour once and for all has been affirmed by the Sustainable Development Goals. Acting together, it is within our means to make the future of work a future without child labour.”
In 1990, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of a Child which was ratified by 193 countries including Pakistan. This defines the child as any human being below the age of 18 years.
In 1999, the ILO prohibited the worst forms of child labor such as debt bondage, child trafficking, drug production, prostitution, child pornography, child soldiers and recruitment in armed conflict and all forms of slavery, and any other hazardous work.
The ILO provides technical assistance to the Government of Pakistan and several employers and workers organizations for the prevention and subsequent elimination of child labour. The Government of Pakistan has ratified ILO core Conventions related to child labour including Minimum Age Convention 1973, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 1999.
The child labour programme has carried various successful initiatives including in the Soccer Ball, Carpet weaving, surgical, glass bangles, deep sea fishing, leather tanneries, domestic work, coalmines, rag-picking, auto-workshops, and brick kiln sectors.
These interventions have rehabilitated thousands of child labours through the provision of non-formal education and related services. However, it remains a serious impediment to the development of the country and calls for more coordinated efforts for its elimination.