Regions and countries


    The latest ILO global estimates on child labour indicate that Africa has the largest number of child labourers; 72.1 million African children are estimated to be in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work..


    In the Arab States, children and young adults make up half the population of 280 million. An estimated 13.4 million, or about 15 per cent, of all children in the region are child labourers. The real level of child labour may be much higher, however, because of the predominance of child labour in the informal sector, which is difficult to measure. Work in the urban informal sector, seasonal agriculture, street work, domestic labour as well as are of particular concern. Gender inequality affecting the enrolment of girls in school is also an important issue influencing child labour.


    The latest ILO Global report on Child Labour found that the number of working children under the age of 15 years in Asia and the Pacific declined by 5 million to 122.3 million from 2000 to 2004. Despite this positive development, the region still faces major challenges. The number of working children in Asia Pacific is by far the largest in the world and represents 18.8 per cent of the 650 million 5-14 year-olds in the region. Furthermore, progress in eliminating child labour is still modest compared to progress in Latin America and the Caribbean.


    Child labour estimates cited the ILO’s 2006 Global Report on child labour suggest a decline in the number of children working in the transition economies in Europe and Central Asia. Economic growth and poverty reduction linked with political commitment to combating child labour have led to significant progress. Europe’s rate of ratification of both the ILO Child Labour Conventions has been very encouraging. Only three of 49 countries have yet to ratify the ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and only three have not yet ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182.


    While child labour has declined substantially in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, there are still 5.7 million working girls and boys who are under the minimum age for employment or are engaged in work that must be abolished according to ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182. The majority of these children work in agriculture, but there are also many thousands of girls and boys working in other high-risk sectors such as mining, dumpsites, domestic labour, fireworks manufacturing and fishing.