While important achievements in the fight against child labour continue to be made in Bangladesh, some 1.2 million children are still trapped in its worst forms, according to the latest National Child Labour Survey report, published in 2015.
With support from various donors, ILO has been working to eliminate child labour in Bangladesh since 1994 through its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). In addition to government counterparts, IPEC has worked with employers and workers organizations, research organizations and academics, civil society actors as well as a wide range of NGOs to implement various projects and activities. About 75,000 child labourers have directly benefited from these interventions.
As a result of continuous advocacy, the Government of Bangladesh ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No.182) on 12 March 2001. National legislation on hazardous child labour was subsequently revised in 2006 and a list of hazardous forms of child labour was adopted in 2013.
ILO-IPEC initiatives have significantly contributed to the inclusion of child labour issues in policy documents. These include the 2005 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the 2010 National Child Labour Policy and the national plan of action to implement the policy over the period 2012-2016. The Domestic Worker’s Protection and Welfare Policy, 2015 has set a minimum age for child domestic workers paving the way to address the issues of thousands of child domestic workers in the country.
ILO-IPEC has helped enhance the knowledge base on child labour. Since 1995, nation-wide sample surveys, baseline surveys and research studies have been conducted which form the basis of various policy and field-level interventions to combat child labour. A National Child Labour Survey report has been published in December 2015 with support from ILO and USDOL. Based on the findings of this latest survey, ILO Dhaka strongly calls for immediate action to address the issue.
Establishment of a ‘Women and Children’ labour unit in the Ministry of Labour and Employment through a revised organigram in 2015 was the outcome of an IPEC intervention that initiated the unit in the Ministry.
An ongoing project “Country Level Engagement and Assistance to Reduce Child Labour” (CLEAR) supported by the US Department of Labor aims to improve the capacity of the government to reduce child labour, including its worst forms. The project is designed to make direct contribution to various strategic areas of intervention of the National Plan of Action thus assisting the government to realize its commitment to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
ILO continues to lobby the Government of Bangladesh to ratify ILO Convention 138 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment. In addition, ILO Dhaka stresses on the need for urgent action to eliminate child labour within a time bound manner in the light of the sustainable development goals.