- Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III and DOLE Senior Officials
- Distinguished members of the National Council Against Child Labour, and its Technical Working Groups/ particularly the Knowledge Management and Advocacy TWG/ which acts as the Organizing Committee for this year’s World Day Against Child Labour activities.
- Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po (good morning)!
This year’s World Day Against Child Labour comes shortly after the 5th Global Conference on Child Labour held last month in Durban, South Africa. Both events come at a critical time.
While in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the Philippines, there has been continued progress in reducing child labour, globally/ the number of children in child labour has increased based on the 2020 Global Estimates on Child Labour that was released by ILO and UNICEF. The report gave us the grim picture of 160 million girls and boys in child labour, half of them in hazardous work, 112 million in agriculture. Add to this the observed increase of 8.9 million are among children aged 5-11.
In the recent years, crises such as disasters, conflicts and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have caused many families to sink deeper into poverty and placed children at greater risk of child labour.
Amidst these, we remain hopeful/ and committed. The universal ratification of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) by all ILO member States affirm the resolve of governments, workers and employers organizations all over the world to eliminate child labour. We are joined by other United Nations Agencies (UNICEF and FAO in particular), international and civil society organizations, and many others.
The ILO and UNICEF report on The role of social protection in the elimination of child labour, which informed the Durban Conference, highlights the importance of social protection in minimizing family vulnerability and poverty, thereby reducing the key drivers of child labour. Families who are provided with social protection have better chances of recovery thus lessening the risk of their children being engaged in child labour.
In the Durban Call to Action, among the areas which participants committed to scale up action is universal access to social protection.
So for this year’s World Day Against Child Labour, ILO, together with its constituents and partners, is calling for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes. These include “progressively extending access to comprehensive, adequate, sustainable, gender- and age-responsive, disability-inclusive/ social protection, including through the establishment of national social protection floors.”
ILO has been supporting the government through DOLE and NEDA on the establishment of a social protection floor for the Philippines. We hope that the ongoing discussion will soon lead to the realization of a social protection floor that would provide the guarantees for basic income security for children, persons in active age, older persons and access to essential health care.
Ensuring universal access to social protection is essential to help construct a path towards a world free of child labour, as called for under SDG Target 8.7, and towards universal social protection, as reflected in SDG Target 1.3.
But while government has the fundamental duty to protect its constituents especially children, we know that child labour is a complex issue. Multi-stakeholder efforts are required to prevent and eliminate child labour. Indeed, we are all in this together. We aspire for a world in which, eventually, we no longer need to celebrate World Day Against Child Labour because there is no longer child labour. A child labour-free Philippines para sa Batang Malaya!
Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!