Commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour

Timor-Leste develops various programmes to reach a future without child labour

In conjunction with the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour (WDCAL), the Government of Timor-Leste, with support from the ILO and UNICEF, take actions to eradicate child labour in the country.

News | Oecusse Ambeno, Timor-Leste | 16 June 2023
Local school children enthusiastically participate in the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour (WDCAL) held in Autonomous Region of Oecusse Ambeno, Timor-Leste.
Two hundred participants representing government officials and school children attended the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour (WDCAL) jointly held by the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion (MSSI), the National Commission against Child Labour, and the General Labour Inspectorate, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

This annual cash subsidy programme aims to improve the well-being of children by conditioning the subsidy on children’s school attendance and regular medical visits. Thus, “social protection reduces family poverty and vulnerability, thereby diminishing key drivers of child labour."

H.E Signi Verdial, Vice minister of Social Solidarity and Inclusion
Held on 12 June, the commemoration was hosted by the regional government authority of the special administrative Region of Oecusse, Timor-Leste, celebrating this year’s theme: “Social Justice for All. Stop Child Labour!”.

Acknowledging the importance of social programmes to address child labour, H.E Signi Verdial, Vice minister of Social Solidarity and Inclusion, stated that the Government of Timor-Leste, through MSSI, is currently implementing a programme named Bolsa da Mãe that provides an annual cash subsidy of $60 to $180 to poor families with a female head of household.

“This annual cash subsidy programme aims to improve the well-being of children by conditioning the subsidy on children’s school attendance and regular medical visits. Thus, “social protection reduces family poverty and vulnerability, thereby diminishing key drivers of child labour,” he she added.

This year the authority will build 10 new schools in the region to bring education close to community to prevent children from walking long distance to access schools and to prevent the dropout as well as child labour."

Arsenio Bano, President of the Autonomous Region of Oecusse
H.E Joaquim Amaral, Minister of Economic Affairs, proudly announced that the National Action Plan which also consists of hazardous list of harmful works to children have been circulated in the Council of Ministers and is now waiting for plenary for discussion and approval. “The Adoption of the National Action Plan is an important step for Government of Timor-Leste to strengthen our actions against child labour issue in Timor-Leste,” he stated, adding an appreciation for support given by the ILO and UNICEF to strengthen inter-ministerial cooperation to eradicate child labour in Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, Arsenio Bano, President of the Autonomous Region of Oecusse, underscored the urgent need for investing in children's education. “This year the authority will build 10 new schools in the region to bring education close to community to prevent children from walking long distance to access schools and to prevent the dropout as well as child labour,” he said.

The commemoration of WDCAL was jointly held by the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion (MSSI), the National Commission against Child Labour, and the General Labour Inspectorate, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Timor-Leste faces a significant challenge, with 42 percent of its population living below the national poverty line. This economic hardship has forced many parents to send their children to work for additional income to support household expenses. The 2016 National Child Labour Survey revealed that 52,651 children, accounting for 12.5 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17, were engaged in child labour. Of these children, 19,195 were involved in hazardous work, including long hours, dangerous conditions, and night shifts.

The ratification and the relevant legislation serve as the foundation for collaborative efforts to develop a future without child labour in the country."

Aniceto Leto Soro, President of the National Commission against Child Labour
In addition, in the same occasion, the ILO together with the National Commission against Child Labour also encouraged the ratification of the fundamental Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age. “The ratification and the relevant legislation serve as the foundation for collaborative efforts to develop a future without child labour in the country,” remarked Aniceto Leto Soro, President of the National Commission against Child Labour.

The 2023 WDACL commemoration was funded by the United State Department of Labour (USDOL) through the ILO - MAP16 project on Measurement, Awareness-Raising, and Policy Engagement Project on Child Labour and Forced Labour. The project provides technical assistance to the Government of Timor-Leste since 2019 to improve awareness, strengthen policies and government capacity, and promote partnerships to combat child labour and forced labour. The National Action Plan and qualitative research on Key Drivers of Child Labour in Timor-Leste were part of the project outputs in effort to support Government of Timor-Leste for elimination of child labour.