The Asia Regional Child Labour (ARCL) Programme

Funded by Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, (UK), the ARCL Programme aims at assisting the ILO constituents and other stakeholders in Pakistan to eliminate child labour in particular the worst forms of child labour, which in turn contributes to the achievement of SDG 8.7 by 2025.

At a glance

Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Provincial Departments of Labour and Human Resource, Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Child Protection Bureaus and Units, Ministry of Women Development, Ministry of Social Welfare, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Provincial Bureaus of Statistics, Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations, Ministry of Trade and Commerce, UN Agencies, Civil Society Organisations working on children’s rights, Media and Academia.
Target beneficiaries
Child labourers and their families, relevant federal, provincial ministries and governmental departments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and enterprises
Geographical focus
Nationwide in Pakistan. At the regional level, the project is being implemented in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Nepal.

Background and objectives

Global estimates indicate that around 152 million children aged 5 to 17 were engaged in child labour in 2016, of which, 73 million were in hazardous work. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 7.4 per cent of child labour, of which 28,469 were in hazardous work. In the region, 57.5 per cent of child labour was in agriculture, 21.4 per cent in industry and 21.1 per cent in services. Pakistan’s 1996 Child labour survey estimated 3.3 million “economically active children” (2.4 million boys and 0.9 million girls) aged 5 to 14 years.

The largest number of child workers was in Punjab province, followed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Child labour in Pakistan is prevalent in agriculture, domestic work, coal mining, production of bricks, carpets, glass bangles, leather and surgical instruments and production and/or transport of drugs. Child trafficking is also prevalent in Pakistan which, can result in commercial sexual exploitation and forced begging.

Pakistan has committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, (1989), the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, No. 182, (1999) and Minimum Age for Employment, No. 138 (1973) and has integrated the elimination of child labour into its National Labour Protection Framework (NLPF). District Vigilance Committees are responsible for implementing the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. The Government of Pakistan (GoP) has recently enacted a federal law - Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018, set up Anti-trafficking units of the Federal Investigation Agency and Child Help Line. . Provincial Child Protection Units take custody of children at risk and street children, and provide with food, counselling, health care, education, recreation and cater to their other needs.

The ARCL Programme has been designed to eradicate child labour, particularly its worst forms, in Asia and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 by 2025. The programme aims to reduce vulnerability to child labour and enhance protection of children from exploitation by achieving the following three outcomes/objectives:
  1. Building a credible knowledge base on the causes and drivers of child labour and effective interventions to address them
  2. Aligning legislation and policies with international conventions on child labour, forced labour and trafficking in persons and enforcing and implementing
  3. Developing and applying a holistic approach to eradicating child labour, particularly its worst forms, in selected regions of each country

Main Activities

Outcome 1. Credible knowledge base on extent of child labour, its drivers and causes to inform the policies
  • Capturing child labour prevalence and trends through household surveys disaggregated by gender, age and worst forms
  • Identifying the forms, causes and drivers of child labour through rapid assessments in high prevalence areas/regions and sectors
  • Highlighting gaps and inconsistencies within the laws and policies on child labour
  • Building the capacity of national statistical organizations to collect data on child labour prevalence trends through regular Labour Force Surveys
  • Facilitating in development /strengthening of tools for Child Labour Monitoring Systems combined with the convergent delivery of social protection services for families vulnerable to child labour
  • Producing creative advocacy products to communicate research findings to policy makers, government officials, social partners, UN agencies and concerned civil society organizations
Outcome 2. Aligning legislation and policies with international conventions on child labour, forced labour and trafficking in persons and enforcing and implementing
  • Facilitating the alignment of policies and legislation on child labour with ILO conventions including minimum age for work with end of compulsory schooling
  • Advocating for adoption of provincial laws and policies on child labour to align with ILO conventions
  • Supporting the finalisation, endorsement and implementation of National Strategy and National Labour Protection Framework to eliminate child and bonded labour
  • Building the capacity of law enforcement agencies i.e., anti-trafficking units, District Vigilance Committees, Child Protection Centres, Child labour monitors and inspectors
  • Supporting convergence of Social Protection programmes to families vulnerable to child labour
  • Advocating with Ministry of Education to eliminate barriers for improved access to compulsory education and develop better skills to match with the labour market demands
  • Advocating with business and Ministry of Trade and Commerce to eliminate child labour from supply chains
Outcome 3. Developing and applying a holistic approach to eradicate child labour, particularly its worst forms, in selected regions/sectors
  • Designing awareness raising activities to bring attitude and behavioural changes among employers, families and children
  • Strengthening community led Child Labour Monitoring Systems through engaging with civil society organizations, local administration/leaders, social volunteers, trade unions etc
  • Developing networks with manufacturers of export goods to eliminate hazardous child labour from their supply chains
  •  Supporting social protection programmes for improved access of families vulnerable to CL
  • Designing and implementing programmes to facilitate school to decent work transition in rural areas
  • Documenting and disseminating good practices and lessons learned at state, national and regional levels