According to the International Labour Organizations (ILOs) 2019 Global Report, more than an estimated 160 million children worldwide are engaged in Child Labour. It says although the numbers are still rising, the surfacing of the COVID 19 Pandemic seems to threaten the reverse years of progress on the menace, and there is a clarion call for nations to act now before it is too late.
Consequently, from Sunday, 15th May to Friday, 20th May, 2022, the South African Government will host the 5th African Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour under the theme, “We Can # End Child Labour “at the Durban International Convention Centre 45 Bram Fischer Road, Durban, 4001.
The 5th Global Conference brings together Government, social partners, International Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector Players and other Individuals around the world to discuss, share good practices, advance policies and commit to the elimination of Child Labour.
This is critically important as it left with only three years to achieve the goal of the elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025, and only eight years towards the goal of the elimination of forced labour by 2030 as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) Target 8.7.
The First Global conference was held in Norway in 1997, second in the Netherland in 2010, the third and fourth were held in Brazil in 2013 and Argentina in 2017 respectively.
The 5th Global Conference is being convene at a time when the world is recovering and responding to the multiple effects of the Covid 19 pandemic which has had devastating effects on health, economic progress, equality and social development.
The conference therefore presents an opportunity to assess progress made towards achieving the goals of Target 8.7, discuss good practices implemented by different actors around the world and identify the gaps identified as well as the urgent measures needed to be taken to accelerate the elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour.
The purpose of the conference will provide an opportunity for the partners around the globe sharing the latest approaches to eliminate child labour such as inclusive education, social protection and labour inspection. It will also identify the emerging innovations that respond to the dynamic nature of the challenges, highlights the central role of social partners and strengthens the commitment of the private sector.
Out of the many topics on the agenda, key topics to be discussed include the elimination of child labour as a condition for the positive labour market performance with human centered approach ( education, skills development, lifelong learning and school to decent work transition, depending on the age groups; the high prevalence of child labour in agriculture, that is closely linked to poverty, informality and family survival strategies; the formalization of the informal economy and the creation of decent work among others.
The conference comes in the form of plenary sessions, theme side event and outside excursions, multiple opportunities and various ways to meet, connect and accelerate activities for children. It is estimated that more than 4,000 delegates will participate in the conference both virtually and in-person.
Ghana, as a member of the ILO, a beacon democracy with the protection of children on top of our development agenda will participate in this 5th Global Conference. The Hon. Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Bright Wireko Brobby on behalf of the Sector Minister, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah will lead the Ghana delegation with representatives from the Ministry, Social partners and other stakeholders
The Deputy Minister will be one of the seven panelists on “Financing Elimination of Child Labour”. The panelists will discuss the required mechanism and framework to mobilize sustainable financing, improve coordination and strengthen partnerships between government, social partners, development partners, international financing institutions and the private sector.
The Hon. Deputy Minister will use the opportunity to discuss how Ghana’s National Plans of Action against Child Labour have supported coordination of efforts to tackle child labour, some implementation challenges and keys to successful coordination.
Other panel members will include Hon. Minister of Labour from Colombia, Head of Unit at Directorate - General International Partnership of European Commission, Global Director Environmental and Social Framework at World Bank, UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Financial Sector Philanthropy – Grammen Foundation and Social Partners.
The Ghanaian delegation will also participate in some of the side events of the conference to share lessons and experiences on the Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZs) concept, the Ghana Child Labour Monitoring system and the Hazardous Framework (HFW) among others.
The writer is the Head of Public Affairs Unit of the MELR and a staff of the ISD.