Children from Collège du Léman and the International School of Geneva performed on the World Day Against Child Labour event (12.06.2017) at 106th Session of the International Labour Conference.
Photo:© Crozet / Pouteau

Act now: end child labour!

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour focuses on action taken for the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. It is the first World Day since the universal ratification of the ILO’s Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, and takes place at time when the COVID-19 crisis threatens to reverse years of progress in tackling the problem.

In June for the World Day, the ILO and UNICEF will release new global estimates and trends on child labour (2016-2020), under the aegis of Alliance 8.7. The report will include an assessment of how the pace of progress towards ending child labour is likely to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented economic crisis that has accompanied it.

For this year’s World Day, a “Week of Action” will be launched around 12 June, starting with the launch of the new global estimates on child labour. The events and activities carried out during this week will be an opportunity for partners to showcase progress in carrying out their “2021 Action Pledges.” All pledges made by regional, national and organizational stakeholders and individuals will be featured on the website for the 2021 International Year  in April.

World Day Against Child Labour logo

Combating child labour

Almost one in ten of all children worldwide are in child labour. While the number of children in child labour has declined by 94 million since 2000, the rate of reduction slowed by two-thirds in recent years. Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025. How can the world community get firmly on track toward eliminating child labour?

Prevalence of child labour

Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development. In the least developed countries, slightly more than one in four children (ages 5 to 17) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development.

Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour — one-fifth — and the absolute number of children in child labour — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures — 7% of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in this region.

The Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions together account for almost nine out of every ten children in child labour worldwide. The remaining child labour population is divided among the Americas (11 million), Europe and Central Asia (6 million), and the Arab States (1 million). In terms of incidence, 5% of children are in child labour in the Americas, 4% in Europe and Central Asia, and 3% in the Arab States.

While the percentage of children in child labour is highest in low-income countries, their numbers are actually greater in middle-income countries. 9% all children in lower-middle-income countries, and 7% of all children in upper-middle-income countries, are in child labour. Statistics on the absolute number of children in child labour in each national income grouping indicate that 84 million children in child labour, accounting for 56% of all those in child labour, actually live in middle-income countries, and an additional 2 million live in high-income countries.

 

Let’s Make 2021 For Children

 

Ending child labour requires immediate action, accelerated motivation, and collaborative partnerships at all levels – now. Let’s make a difference. Let’s make sure that our post-pandemic world is free from child labour. Visit International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour to find out how you can get involved.

Did you know?

  • The number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years
  • The agriculture sector accounts for 70% of children in child labour, followed by 20% in services and 10% in industry.
  • Child labour is more prevalent among boys than girls at every age but when 21 hours per week of household chores are taken into account, the gender gap in child labour narrows.
  • Child labour in rural areas stands at 14%, nearly three times higher than the 5% in urban areas.

Source: UNICEF 2021

High-Level Debate

high-level virtual side event

Join us for a high-level virtual side event

This year, the World Day Against Child Labour will be marked by a high-level virtual side event, organized by ILO and UNICEF, during the International Labour Conference. The event will be followed by an interactive discussion between high-level speakers and youth advocates on paving the way to 2025, highlighting efforts made to implement International Year “2021 Action Pledges.”  Click here to follow the event live.

COVID-19 has plunged the world into a crisis of unprecedented scope and scale. The harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging in the poorest countries and in the poorest neighbourhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations, such as children in child labour and victims of forced labour and human trafficking, particularly women and girls.

Students in a rural area of Colombia

In July 2019, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, and has asked the International Labour Organization to take the lead in its implementation. The international year will be an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate efforts to achieve SDG Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labour by 2025.

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.