World Day Against Child Labour  2020 poster
World Day Against Child Labour 2020 poster
Photo:ILO
The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. The crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labour.

COVID-19: Protect children from child labour, now more than ever

World Day Against Child Labour 2020 focuses on the impact of crisis on child labour. The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. The crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labour. Already, there are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours.

This year, the World Day is conducted as a virtual campaign and is being organized jointly with the Global March Against Child Labour and the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture (IPCCLA) .

A joint ILO-UNICEF paper on the impact of COVID-19 on child labour, to be released on 12 June, looks at some of the main channels through which the pandemic is likely to affect progress towards the eradication of child labour.

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.

 

Did you know?

  • 152 million children between the ages of 5-17 were in child labour, almost half them, 73 million, in hazardous child labour.
  • Almost half (48%) of the victims of child labour were aged 5-11; 28% were 12-14 years old; and 24% were 15-17 years old.
  • Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%) - this includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture - 17% in services; and 12% in the industrial sector, including mining.

High-Level Debate

Preguntas frecuentes

COVID-19 and Child Labour: Looking forward in times of crisis

On 12 June 2020, join us for a high-level debate on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour on Online, ILO TV on YouTube. You are kindly invited to send your questions to the panellists ahead of the debate to childlabour@ilo.org by 10 June. For further information, email Jane Colombini at colombini@ilo.org.

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.

Geometric illustration with the Secretariat building at UNHQ, New York.

International days 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.