Global child labour declines by one-third since 2000 – ILO

A new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “Marking progress against child labour”, says that the global number of child labourers has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million.

The report shows that the fight against child labour is on the right track, but the goal of eliminating its worst forms by 2016 will not be met at the current pace.

The ILO report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday noted that hazardous work is often treated as a proxy for the Worst Forms of Child Labour, since children involved in dangerous work account for the overwhelming majority of those in the worst forms.

“We are moving in the right direction but progress is still too slow. If we are serious about ending the scourge of child labour in the foreseeable future, then we need a substantial stepping-up of efforts at all levels. There are 168 million good reasons to do so,”ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The latest ILO estimates, published in the lead-up to the Global Conference on Child Labour, which takes place in Brasilia next month, show that most of the progress was made between 2008 and 2012, when the global number fell from 215 million to 168 million.

“More than half of the 168 million child labourers worldwide are involved in hazardous work. This is work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.

“The current number of children in hazardous work stands at 85 million, down from 171 million in 2000,” it said.

The report said the largest absolute number of child labourers is found in the Asia-Pacific region with almost 78 million, but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour in terms of proportion of the population, at more than 21 per cent.

It observed that the incidence of child labour is highest in poorer countries but middle-income countries have the largest numbers of child labourers.

Child labour among girls fell by 40 per cent since 2000, compared to 25 per cent for boys.

It said agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers could be found, accounting for 98 million children, or 59 per cent, but the problems are not negligible in services-54 million and industry-12 million mostly in the informal economy.

It said the number of child labourers also decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa by six million.

The report identifies a number of actions that have driven progress in the fight against child labour in recent years; declaring that policy choices and accompanying investments in education and social protection appear particularly relevant to the decline in numbers.

“No one can take sole credit for this result, as many have helped draw attention to the negative impact of child labour on economic growth, the future of societies and the rights of children.

“However, the ILO’s role in leading the fight against child labour, through its standards and supervisory system, advice, capacity building and direct action, deserves special mention,” Constance Thomas, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour said.

Source: GNA

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