World Day against Child Labour

Statement by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder on the occasion of the World Day against Child Labour

Statement | 12 June 2014
Children are entitled to our protection and on this World Day against Child Labour we draw attention to the crucial role of social protection in keeping children out of child labour and removing them from it.

The most recent ILO estimates, released in September 2013, reveal that 168 million children worldwide – one in ten – are in child labour. 85 million of them are engaged in hazardous work.

Change is possible and it is moving in the right direction – child labour has declined by one third since 2000; most significantly between 2008 and 2012. Yet progress remains too slow. Accelerating progress demands that we tackle the root of the problem while simultaneously providing immediate support to children in need. And social protection and the promotion of fundamental principles and rights at work are essential elements of such a holistic approach.

Family poverty and income shocks are often catalysts of child labour. It is time to break this cycle and ensure that families living in poverty have adequate incomes, income security and health care. These social protection measures can help households weather shocks and keep their children in school and out of child labour.

The ILO’s Recommendation No. 202 on national social protection floors adopted in 2012 gives guidance on the extension of social protection to ensure that all people have, at least, essential health care and basic income security throughout their lives. These social protection floors are a fundamental element of national social security systems.

The ILO’s World Social Protection Report 2014-15 finds that many children are not receiving the child and family benefits and support that could make the world of difference to their present and to their future.

Let’s join hands to accelerate action and consign child labour to history."
In addition, social protection instruments that protect adults, including unemployment benefits, maternity benefits, and health care, also reduce family vulnerability, including vulnerability to child labour to replace adults’ lost income.

Today we call for action, in line with ILO Recommendation No. 202, to introduce, improve and extend social protection so that it reaches all children, including the vulnerable and those hardest to reach. We call for well-designed social security systems, which are sensitive to children’s needs and help fight child labour.

Underinvestment in children jeopardizes their rights, not least their right to freedom from child labour, and it is a stranglehold on the prospects of a better future for themselves and their countries.

There is no secret as to what needs to be done: social protection along with universal compulsory, formal, quality education at least up to the minimum age for work, decent work for adults and youth of working age, effective law and strong social dialogue together provide the right response to child labour.

Today we call for renewal of commitment and unity of effort from all actors in the worldwide movement: governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, international organizations, enterprises and civil society and youth organizations.

The right policy choices must be made, solidarity reinforced.

There should be no speed limits on the road to the eradication of child labour. Let’s join hands to accelerate action and consign child labour to history.