World Day Against Child Labour

Child labour in Myanmar robs 1million children away from their aspirations

World Child Labour Day 2019: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!

Press release | 11 June 2019
Group photo
YANGON: Although recent data in Myanmar show a decrease in child labour, there are over 600,000 Myanmar children engaged in hazardous work that harms their health, safety and morals. Most of them in the agriculture sector. To achieve a child labour-free Myanmar in the coming decade, protecting children should be a top priority among all sectors - government, businesses, organisations, civil society groups, communities, and families.

Speaking at a media conference held ahead of World Day Against Child Labour, Rory Mungoven, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Liaison Officer in Myanmar said, “Poverty is one of the root causes for child labour, but there is still much that can be done to prevent it. We acknowledge efforts made by Myanmar to address child labour and encourage the implementation of the National Action Plan on Child Labour as a priority along with the ratification of ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for employability.”

World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) is celebrated worldwide annually on 12 June to call attention to the global child labour challenges and to drive collective action and interventions that aims at ending all forms of child labour by 2025.

Joining ILO at the multi-sectoral WDACL statements during the opening event on June 11 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Yangon were U Nyunt Win, Director-General, Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department (FGLLID), Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MoLIP); and Dr. Daw Kay Thi Kyaw, Director, the Department of Social Welfare; Alison Rhodes, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Aung Kyaw Myint, Confederation of Trade  Unions Myanmar (CTUM);  and representatives  from  the Agriculture  &  Farmer Federation of Myanmar (AFFM-IUF), and Myanmar Industries Crafts and Services Trade Unions Federation (MICS-TUSF).

“Myanmar is undertaking various reforms for multi sectorial development and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population is committed towards the eradication of child labour by implementing the national-level programme for Myanmar Child Labour Eradication Project, and the formalization of hazardous work list for children,” U Nyunt Win, Director-General, Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.

From ILO Global survey on child labour, there are approximately 152 million children in child labour globally, of which 73 million are in hazardous work. These children and adolescents are deprived of a normal childhood, and are exposed to moral, health and social risks. Allowing these conditions to continue will in effect weaken the future workforce of each of the country. In Myanmar, widespread practice of child labour occurs in the agriculture (60.5%) and manufacturing (12%) sectors.

As part of the WDACL awareness raising campaign in Myanmar, MoLIP in collaboration with the ILO, and in partnership with development partners including the European Union Delegation in Myanmar, the Embassy of Switzerland, the Embassy of Australia, and UNICEF are organising a series of events throughout Myanmar starting June 9 to July 10.

Commenting on the exhibition, EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said, "We are only children once! Going to school, playing, and dreaming during childhood – this makes us productive and strong adults, who can and must do their duty to abolish forced child labour.”

Child labour awareness sign board at Yangon central station
The WDACL campaign aims to bring the dialogue to the Government, community levels and key public spaces. There will be documentary photo story exhibitions at Dala Ferry (9 to 25 June), Junction City Mall (10 June to 13 June), and the Yangon Central Railway Station (11 to 25 June) to inform the general public of the ordeals of Myanmar children in child labour.

“Child labour is a global human rights issue. It often leads to forced labour in adulthood and other human rights violations. Children should not work in fields. They should be in a safe environment, at home or in school, and encouraged to achieve their aspirations,” said Selim Benaissa, Chief Technical Advisor, ILO/ My-PEC.

The abolition of child labour is one of the principles on which the ILO was founded 100 years ago, in 1919, and it remains a key goal. In Myanmar, ILO’s work to combat child labour is done through the Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (My-PEC) , funded by the US Department of Labour.

Myanmar has ratified ILO Convention No.182 on the worst forms of child labour in December 2013. Since then collaboration to combat child labour between ILO and Myanmar started at not only in policy and legislation areas, but also in term of the actual implementation of those policy in the ground, which includes the adoption of the first National Action Plan (NAP) on Child Labour in 2017, which includes the list of hazardous work prohibited to children under 18 as required by the Convention.

Child labour awareness sign board at Yangon water bus
Last year, the Government announced the creation of a National Child Labour Eradication Committee with the objective to fast track the implementation of the NAP. The Committee is chaired by Vice President U Myint Swe and composed of key Ministries at the Union level and Chief Minister at state / regional level, workers and employers’ organisations, and civil society groups. The ultimate goal of the NAP could be appreciated by the Government’s manifesto, “By 2030 all boys and girls in Myanmar are effectively prevented and protected from child labour, especially the worst forms.”

Facts from Myanmar Labour Force Survey 2015
  • 1.13 million children aged 5 to 17 years (or 9.3% of the child population) are in child labour
  • More than half of the child labourers – 616,815 (or 5.1% of the child population) – are trapped in hazardous work likely to harm their physical, mental or moral development;
  • 24.1% of the child labourers in hazardous work are between 12-14 years old and 74.6% are between 15-17 years old.
  • The 12-14 years age group tend to work very long hours
  • Key sectors were child labour occurs are Agriculture (60.5%), Manufacture (12%) and wholesales & retail trade; repair of motor vehicles etc. (11%).