Islamabad, 11 June 2011: In a joint statement to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, ILO and UNICEF today called for renewed efforts to end the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan.
In a new report issued for the World Day Against Child Labour, the ILO warns that a staggeringly high number of children are still caught in hazardous work — some 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers—and calls for urgent action to halt the practice.
The worst forms of child labour are often the most invisible and there is little current data available in Pakistan. Without reliable information, governments and partners are unable to develop policy and target programmes to help the most vulnerable. Presently, the only national level data is from the 1996 National Child Labour Survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, which estimated 3.3 million child labourers in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, children under the age of 14 are involved in hazardous, physically demanding and exploitative sectors that include brick kilns, rag picking, crop agriculture, fishing, domestic service, mining and quarrying, and street and service industries. Along with the physical toll that this takes on children’s bodies and minds, a child engaged in child labour will often not be able to attend school nor enjoy time for play and socialising with peers.
The flow-on effects of these child rights violations are enormous: child labour is systematically undermining progress towards the attainment of Pakistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on poverty reduction, education, HIV/AIDS and gender equality.
”Child labour is an urgent issue for the Millennium agenda. Unless millions of children currently working in hazardous conditions are reached, the goals of attaining universal primary education (MDG 2) and gender parity in primary and secondary education (a key indicator for MDG 3) will not be reached” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Pakistan’s Representative. “Safe, accessible and high-quality education is the best way to encourage families to send their children to school and to prevent children from engaging in the worst forms of labour.”
“The ILO is providing technical assistance to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, Government of Pakistan to conduct the second national Child Labour Survey during 2011-2012. The new child labour survey will provide updated statistical information on the extent of child labour, including hazardous forms of child labour, within the country. This data will support our efforts to advocate for the rights of children, and to overcome hazardous forms of child labour”, said Hugh Odhams, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Islamabad office.
In Pakistan, UNICEF, ILO and partners support the Government to implement equitable national programmes that aim to increase school enrolment and access to education and other social protections for the most disadvantaged children and their families.
“Not all work children perform is harmful. Work that is age appropriate and that does not interfere with schooling and leisure time can be a normal part of growing up in rural communities”, said Rohrmann.
ILO and UNICEF jointly support the global Roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016, which calls for an integrated response to child labour.
About the International Labour Organization
The ILO is the international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards. It is the only tripartite UN agency with representations from government, employers’ and workers’ organizations. This tripartite structure makes the ILO a unique forum in which the governments and the social partners of the economy of its 183 Member States can freely and openly debate and elaborate labour standards and policies, promoting Decent Work for all.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. In Pakistan, it works with the government, NGOs and other partners to support child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. It has provided vital relief and reconstruction support to help individuals rebuild their lives after emergencies, such as the October 2005 earthquake. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF Pakistan visit: www.unicef.org/pakistan
For more information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child visit: http://www.unicef.org/rightsite
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org
For further information please contact:
Muhammad Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer and Press Officer, ILO Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 227 6456-8
Abdul Sami Malik, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Pakistan
Tel: +92 300 855 6654