International Day of the Girl
On International Day of the Girl, ILO celebrates the achievements, unheard stories of girls in Africa
As the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl, and the achievements made by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, girls’ voices around the world have increased thanks to powerful figures such as Greta Thunberg on climate change and Malala Yousafzai on children’s rights and access to education. However, many girls’ struggles and actions remain unknown.
“At 13, as I had not studied, I started working as a maid. I was barely gaining enough to survive, even though I had to work non-stop between six in the evening and one in the morning,” recalls Akissi Delta, a well-known actress in Côte d’Ivoire.
A few years ago, the actress joined a group of Ivorian singers who sang about child labour and its consequences in the song “Mon enfant” (“My child”).
“Between the ages of 2 and 8, I lived with my grandmother and spent most of my time working in the field,”says Ms. Delta
According to the National Survey conducted in 2013 with the support of the ILO, in Côte d'Ivoire, 28.2 per cent (just under two million children) of children aged 5 to 17 years are engaged in economic activities. Most of children are engaged in agriculture (53.4 per cent of children) and services (35.6 per).
With 40% of the world cocoa production, Côte d’Ivoire is a country that had founded its economy on agriculture very early on. According to the ILO’s Global Estimate on child labour published in 2017, the vast majority (85 per cent) of child labourers in Africa is in agriculture and its various subsectors: crop production, animal husbandry, forestry, fishing, and aquaculture.
In Cote d’Ivoire, the International Labour Organization had recently launched the Accelerating action for the elimination of child labour in supply chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa), a project covering six countries in Africa and funded by the Netherlands Government. In the country, ACCEL Africa targets 500 men and women on the improvement of their income with an estimated of over 1,000 children positively impacted.
The ACCEL Africa project also supports three hundred children, boys and girls, aged 15+ to transition from school to work in Cote d’Ivoire.
“I had a cousin about my age who was brought from the village. She stayed at home while others were going to school. When I think about it, it was unfair,” says Guy Constant Neza, former journalist turned into music producer.
“Gender inequalities that take root at an early age tend to produce long-term gender inequality, which is reproduced in the world of work. This must end,” said Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO, on the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child.
The aim of the celebration of the International Day of the Girl is to promote girl’s empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights, while also highlighting the challenges that girls face around the world.
“With persisting conditions of global economic crisis and uncertainty, there must be a firm resolve to re-commit to the goals of social progress and social justice in shaping a world where the girl child finds her rightful place – on equal terms with boys, at home and in school and well-prepared for entry, at the right time, to the world of work,” said Ryder.
Abidjan, 03 October 2019 – Côte d'Ivoire will host, from 3rd to 6th December 2019, the 14th African Regional Labour Meeting. The Government of Côte d'Ivoire and the International Labour Organization (ILO), respectively represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Protection and the Regional Director of the ILO for Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the organization of the continental meeting on Ivorian soil.
''It is to optimize the organization of this regional meeting that we are gathered here today to sign this agreement between the ILO and the Ivorian Government. The agreement will further strengthen the already existing strong partnership between the ILO and Cote d’Ivoire; and contribute to the fluidity and improvement of the organization of this 14th African Regional Meeting dear to ILO constituents and partners involved in the promotion of decent work in Africa,'' explains Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Director of the ILO Regional Office for Africa.
For the Cote d’Ivoire government side, the Minister of Employment and Social Protection who signed the agreement, reaffirmed the commitment of the Ivorian authorities to offer all the assistance necessary for the smooth running of the regional meeting.
"By hosting the 14th African Regional Meeting, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, supported by the social partners, intends to reaffirm its commitment to support the ILO in promoting the values of dignity, freedom, dialogue and socio-economic progress so dear to the organization for a hundred years now. This is why all the ministries and social partners involved in organizing this important African meeting have been working closely with the ILO for several months, " said Abinan Kouakou, Minister of Employment and Social Protection.
In the framework of the inception phase of Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Africa “ACCEL Africa” Project and in close coordination with the Government of Egypt, represented by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Social Solidarity (MOSS), and National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), a celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour took place with the participation of huge media representatives, ILO tripartite, NGOs, UN Agencies and relevant international organizations.
A preparatory event took place on June 11, 2019; which targeted 50 children at MOSS Child Labour Center that are currently involved in child labour and children who are at risk of educational drop-out to help them expressing themselves, raising their awareness on child rights and protection mechanisms and sensitizing them on the importance of education through interactive activities. Children were interactively coached to create their own play “interactive theatre”, puppet theatre story and draft their drawings on their opportunities and possible paths to achieve their dreams in line with WDACL 2019 theme.
US delegation visits ILO projects addressing child labour in cocoa-farming communities in Côte d'Ivoire.
In Diekadiokro, a village in the M’Batto region of south-central Côte d’Ivoire, community members accompanied by their leaders had an interactive session with the US delegation, sharing parents’ and local implementing staff members’ experience in tackling child labour and safety at work issues.
“We managed to build a consensus on the need to prevent and eliminate child labour and enrol and keep children at school,” explained Flora Kwame, director of M’batto Social Centre, a local office under the Ivorian Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and partner to the ILO on different projects since 2012.
A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the Chocolate and Cocoa Industry and the ILO to Combat Child Labour in Cocoa Growing Communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana is among the projects aimed to strengthen Child Labour Monitoring Systems (CLMS) and provide support to national, district and community level operations in both Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring Ghana.
“In M’batto, we successfully identified and removed 49 children from child labour,” explained Flora Kwame.
M’batto Social Centre has also provided support to the “Towards child labour-free cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana through an integrated area based approach” Cocoa Communities Project (CCP), an initiative framed by the Declaration of action to support the implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol .
The initiative aims to accelerate progress in the elimination of child labour, with a focus on its worst forms, in cocoa-growing communities.
“We helped communities to prioritize the actions needed to address social and economic issues and formulate community action plans in order to increase their productivity and drive the local development,” said Flora Kwame.
“We organised ‘plans selling’ days through which community members would ‘market’ their respective community plans to potential donors and advocate for its funding,” she continued.
Thanks to this strategy, community members mobilized multiple sources of funding for the implementation of their community action plans, which resulted in the strengthening of partnerships and ensured sustainability for their actions against child labour.
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As she entered the UN building in Geneva to take part to the Centenary session of the International Labour Conference in June 2019, Molly Namirembe – a youth advocate from Uganda - could almost feel like she was in a dream. But this was real. She was about to deliver a strong call to put an end to child labour that destroyed part of her own childhood and that could have led her to a life in poverty.
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Egypt is one of the six countries covered by a new ILO project to accelerate the elimination of child labour in African supply chains. It is likely to have a major impact on thousands of children’s lives throughout the country.