World Day Against Child Labour

A greater access to social protection is needed to prevent children from child labour in Timor-Leste

The commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour in Timor-Leste is marked with the launch of the joint ILO and UNICEF research on key driver of child labour and the urgent call for the adoption of the Child Labour National Action Plan.

News | Dili, Timor-Leste | 17 June 2022
The launch of the ILO-UNICEF joint report on key drivers of child labour in Timor-Leste.
DILI, Timor-Leste (ILO News) - The National Commission against Child Labour, the General Labour Inspectorate, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) celebrated this year’s World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) in Suai, Timor-Leste, on 15 June, by launching key findings of a qualitative research on the drivers of child labour in Timor-Leste.

Supported by the ILO and UNICEF, the research confirmed that poverty is a key driver of child labour, both for the families themselves but also for employers, who do not have the means to hire adult labourers. The research also found that very few families surveyed had access to social assistance, Bolsa da Mae in particular, and for those who did, the cash assistance that they received was insufficient to prevent child labour.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put more children at risk due to raising poverty. Social protection is one of powerful measure to prevent child labour by providing families with incomes security in difficult time. Government, thus, needs to increase its investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labour."

Michiko Miyamoto, Country Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste
The result of the research is also in line with this year’s WDACL theme: “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour”. The ILO, together with its constituents and partners, called for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labour. Social protection is both a human right and a potent policy tool to prevent families from resorting to child labour in times of crisis.

The global ILO and UNICEF research found that, as of 2020 and before the COVID-19 crisis took hold, only 46.9 per cent of the global population were effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit. Coverage for children is even lower with nearly three quarters of children or equal to 1.5 billion lacking of social protection.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put more children at risk due to raising poverty. Social protection is one of powerful measure to prevent child labour by providing families with incomes security in difficult time. Government, thus, needs to increase its investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labour,” said Michiko Miyamoto, Country Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

“The survey recommends the government to strengthen its social assistance by expanding social protection services and schemes to vulnerable families,” added Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani, Country Representative UNICEF Timor-Leste.

The Child Labour National Action Plan is vital, aimed to guide and strengthen the works of government institutions such as the Commission against Child Labour and the Labour Inspector office to fight child labour in Timor-Leste. The National Commission against Child Labour supports and urges the Government of Timor-Leste to immediately approve and deliberate the Child Labour National Action Plan."

Aniceto Leto Soro, President of National Commission Against Child Labour
The key findings of the research also provide an urge for the Government of Timor-Leste to urgently adopt the National Action Plan Against the Worst Forms of Child Labour and its list of hazardous works for children. The National Action Plan is now still in the process of reviewing by the government since its submission in 2020.

“The Child Labour National Action Plan is vital, aimed to guide and strengthen the works of government institutions such as the Commission against Child Labour and the Labour Inspector office to fight child labour in Timor-Leste. The National Commission against Child Labour supports and urges the Government of Timor-Leste to immediately approve and deliberate the Child Labour National Action Plan,” said Aniceto Leto Soro, President of National Commission Against Child Labour, during the commemoration.

Earlier on 6 June 2022, a delegation of the same organizations had met His Excellency President Ramos Horta to brief him about the child labour situation in the country. The President has reiterated his support toward the adoption of the national action plan.

As per the 2016 National Child Labour Survey, 52,651 children, or 12.5% of children between the ages of 5 and 17, were engaged in child labour in Timor-Leste. Of these, 19,195 children engaged in hazardous work (meaning that they work long hours, or work in dangerous conditions, or carry out night work).