In 2002, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) and Ghana, as a member state of the ILO will join the world to celebrate the WDACL.
The global day, which is observed on the 12th of June each year, is set aside to commemorate and to raise awareness and highlight the plight of these children, most especially the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL). The WDACL also provides an opportunity for all players to highlight the actions taken to tackle child labour and address the root causes as response to child labour issues.
The WFCL includes all forms of slavery, or practices similar to slavery, such as sale of and trafficking of children, debt bondage, and seldom or forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use of armed conflict, child prostitution and pornography, illicit activities and trafficking of drugs. (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (Nos 182)).
The global theme for this year’s event is “2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.”
In the case of Ghana, the National Steering Committee on Child Labour (NSCCL) has agreed to domesticate it to read “Take Stock, Honour Our Pledge, Stop Child Labour in Ghana Now.”
What about Child Labour
Child Labour refers to work that has been prohibited for children either because of their age or because of the nature of the task involved. Historically, it is recorded that all over the world, virtually all societies have had their children worked in some ways as child labourers.
In our modern world, for example, when a child of school going age engages among others in mining, quarrying, fishing, streetism, child soldiers and sex, it is prohibited and abhorred as child labour.
However, ILO Fundamental Minimum Age Convention, 1973(N0s. 138) sets the general minimum wage for admission into employment or work at 15 years and 13 years for light work and the minimum age for hazardous work at 18years.
At the 108th and 100 years celebration of the ILO in a book entitled “Tackling Child Labour”, 100 years of Action, page 2, it says Child Labour denies girls and boys of their childhood, to a good education and to grow up safe and protected from harm. These children work for long hours, for little or no pay and have no knowledge of their rights.
The book added that about half of them work in hazardous work places and dangerous structures, sometimes resulting in injuries and illness that can have long life effects on children, or may even be life threatening.
Not too long, Child Labour has been declared as a global human and Labour rights issue that affects us all. This is because it has been shown to hinder children’s development thereby leading to lifelong or psychological damage.
Causes of Child Labour
According to the ILO’s 2017 global report (2012-2016), 152 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour, accounting for almost 10 percent of the child population as a whole world, while approximately 73 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in hazardous; 35.4 million children between the ages of 5 and 14, and 37.1 million between the ages of 14 and 17. Out of the figure, Ghana has 21.8 per cent of children in child labour.
The underlying causes of this menace of Child Labour cannot be underestimated. The causes include poverty, limited access to decent work opportunities for families, ignorance, lack of access to quality education, irresponsible parenting etc.
As part of plans to observe the day, the Child Labour Unit (CLU) under the Labour Department (LD) of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) together with its actors have jointly planned a series of activities to share and showcase the success stories as a nation and also pledge our support to help eliminate and end child labour in all its forms by 2025 as outlined in the SDG 8.7.
Some of the activities planned to mark the day and throughout the calendar year include among others Civic messages, media discussions, statement on the floor of parliament, 2021 Action pledges by regional, national and organizational stakeholders and individuals will be featured on the website and the social media.
Children of today, are our future tomorrow, let’s all fight to eliminate and eradicate child labour now.