Uniting Against Child Labour: A Celebration of Progress and Vision for a Future Free of Child Exploitation in Egypt

Article | 12 July 2023
Cairo, Egypt, 11 July 2023 - Egypt celebrated the World Day Against Child Labour under the theme "Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!" Leaders from different sectors, banded together, each adding their unique voice and perspective to the urgent call for action.

The meeting was chaired by Eng. Nevine Othman, Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, His Excellency Mr. Han-Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Eric Oechslin, Director of the Decent Work Team for North Africa and Country Director for Egypt and Eritrea, Mrs. Amaal Abdel-Mawgoud, Head of the Central Department of External Relations, on behalf of Mr. Hassan Shehata, His Excellency Minister of Labour, and Dr. Amani Abdel-Fattah, Director of the General Department of Child Affairs on behalf of Hers Excellency Minister Dr. Nevin El Kabbaj, Minister of Social Solidarity. These respected individuals converged under the auspices of the ILO project "Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa" (ACCEL Africa), generously funded by the Government of the Netherlands.

The event kicked off with a inspiring address from Mr. Han-Maurits Schaapveld, who urged the protection of children, reminding the audience of their potential as agents of change and their right to a brighter future. Echoing Schaapveld's sentiments, Mrs. Amaal Abdel-Mawgoud on behalf of his Excellency Minister Hassan Shehata voiced his pleasure at the high level of participation at the event, symbolizing a collective recognition of the importance to tackle child labour in the country. He stressed the vital role of Egypt's National Action Plan for Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labour, a roadmap set from 2018 to 2025, aimed at supporting families and shielding children from harmful work environments.

Mrs. Amaal Abdel-Mawgoud proceeded to acknowledge the Ministry of Labour’s proactive measures in tackling child labour. Highlighting key initiatives, such as the establishment of a dedicated Child Labour Unit within the Ministry, mandated to identify, and resolve all barriers and challenges in this sphere. Moreover, in a bid to further safeguard young workers, the Ministry passed Resolution No. 215 in 2021, which outlines a list of hazardous jobs unsuitable for children under 18. Completing the ministry's proactive stance, he referenced ongoing efforts to upgrade safety and health standards within the workforce. This included continuous development of labour inspection systems and public awareness initiatives across all governorates, cementing the government's commitment to tackling child labour head-on.

Mr. Eric Oechslin pointed out the positive strides achieved through cooperative efforts in implementing the ACCEL Africa project. He commended the enthusiasm of the participants and highlighted the project's impact on more than 10,000 beneficiaries in Africa, including children, their families and social partners. Among the project's remarkable achievements in Egypt, is the awareness booklet "The Child's Place is in School", launched in partnership with the "Wa'i" program of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, aiming to highlight the perils of child labour.

Eng. Nevine Othman highlighted the significant role of quality education in combating child labour, adding that providing social protection and financial support is crucial to families, to prevent children from dropping out of school. She closed her address by underscoring the need for unified efforts and coordination, as eliminating child labour is a responsibility shared by all. While, Dr. Amani Abdel-Fattah, representing the Ministry of Social Solidarity, spoke about the services provided by the Ministry to support working children and their families, including child pension schemes, scholarships, vocational training centers, and community schools. Additionally, the Ministry supports family empowerment programs, targeting particularly women.

Ms. Marwa Salah, National Project Officer of the ACCEL Africa project in Egypt, shared encouraging results. The project, she announced, has enabled the successful rehabilitation of 1,800 children, bringing them back into education through an initiative known as Supporting Child Rights through Education Arts and Media (SCREAM). In addition to this milestone, the celebration played host to three panel discussions. Participated by a diverse group of social partners and beneficiaries, these panels focused on enhancing the economic empowerment of families in high-priority communities. Ms. Salah highlighted the impressive reach of these initiatives, which provided more than 2,000 beneficiaries with easier access to financial services.

The celebration also included an exhibition of children's art, success stories, testimonies, and panel discussions, serving as a poignant reminder of the children's potential and the importance of their role in the fight against child labour.