World Day against Child Labour spotlights girls, Economic crisis could force more girls into child labour

BANGKOK (ILO News)–The vulnerabilities of children–particularly girls-during the global economic crisis will be highlighted on World Day Against Child Labour (12 June), with dozens of events throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Press release | 10 June 2009

BANGKOK (ILO News) – The vulnerabilities of children – particularly girls - during the global economic crisis will be highlighted on World Day Against Child Labour (12 June), with dozens of events throughout Asia and the Pacific.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) will release a new report, “Give Girls a Chance: Tackling child labour, a key to the future,” highlighting the exploitation of girls through child labour and warning that the crisis could force more girls out of education and into child labour.

The report by the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) of the International Labour Office (ILO) provides the latest estimates on the number of girls in child labour (more than 100 million world wide, with 53 million in hazardous work), and details some of the exploitative forms of child labour they face.

This year’s World Day also marks the tenth anniversary of the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. This landmark Convention has been ratified at an unprecedented rate – in Asia and the Pacific more than 80 per cent of countries have already ratified – and is close to achieving universal ratification.

Under the overall campaign theme, “Giving Girls a Change: End Child Labour”, events are being organized in at least 11 Asia Pacific countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Some highlights include:

  • Bangladesh: An adolescents’ convention, a rally for 500 working children and a national seminar to promote the finalization of a national child labour elimination policy.
  • Cambodia: Televised discussions, a marathon race for around 1500 invitees, a children’s rally.
  • China: A forum bringing together government, workers and employers representatives with teachers, parents and migrant children.
  • Papua New Guinea: Debates by primary school children, secondary school pupils and university students.
  • Fiji: Launch of review report of the legislative and policy framework, awareness-raising forums, TV programmes.
  • Indonesia: SMS and Facebook campaigns, march against child labour with around 1,800 children and adults, bicycle rally and children’s festivals.
  • Mongolia: Working children’s forum, schools campaign, exhibitions, national seminar.
  • Nepal: Radio programmes, street dramas, speech, painting, poetry and song competitions, free health checks for working children.
  • Sri Lanka: Awareness-raising seminar for parents, exhibitions and competitions for children in the conflict-affected eastern districts.
  • Thailand: Concerts, rally, students’theatre performances, seminars.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Convention 182 and the progress that has been made in combating child labour in that time, but we must also be aware of the growing concern about the impact of the ongoing economic crisis on girls”, said Mr. Guy Thijs, Deputy Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. “The crisis threatens girls in many ways. Increasing poverty will generate child labour. When families have to choose between educating a boy or girl, the girl often looses out. Girls also face cultural discrimination. Many are expected to prioritize household chores or economic activities over education or skills training”.

“Investing in girls’ education is particularly important because the benefits trickle down from generation to generation. Educated girls marry later, have fewer and healthier children, and ensure their own children are educated. Taking girls out of work and putting them into school is one of the best investments any country can make,” he said.

World-wide, events and special media activities are being held in some 50 countries, involving governments, employers, workers, other UN bodies, non-governmental organizations, teachers, parents and children.