According to the United Nations, in 2002, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.
On 12th June, every year, the WDACL brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour.
Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
However, the ILO defines the term “child labour” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
On the backdrop of this, Ghana, on Thursday 6th June, 2019, launched the 2019 World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) in Accra, dubbed, “Consolidating Efforts: Children Must Work on Dreams not in Fields”, under the auspices of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MoELR) in collaboration with its implementing partners.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Emmanuel Kwame Mensah, the National Co-ordinator of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Caring Gold Mining Project, underscored the need to actively support various initiatives in place to end child labour in the country.
The ILO Caring Gold Mining Project, is however, an initiative by the international body, to help reduce the incidence of child labour, while improving working conditions in artisanal and small scale gold mining businesses.
According to him, the Ghana Labour Standards Survey (GLSS-6) which showed that, 21.8 per cent of Ghanaian children were engaged in various forms of hazardous work was troubling and it was time for all, especially community leaders to support all efforts to eradicate it.
He indicated that, child labour was one of the formidable hurdles to the achievement of very important national and international goals in the area of education, poverty reduction, social protection and human rights as a whole.
He therefore stressed that, the 2025 SDG Agenda’s deadline for eliminating child labour will be feasible, once there is a concerted efforts to fight the menace.
“In support of Alliance 8.7, we call for immediate action to address the remaining challenges so that the world community can get firmly on track towards eliminating child labour.’ He reiterated.
A Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations (MoELR), Mr. Bright Wireku Brobbey, intimated that, despite all the policies and other social interventions put in place by government like the Capitation Grant for children in basic schools, it would be difficult for the country to reduce the prevalence rate of child labour. Thus, there was the need to significantly accelerate and intensify the efforts to clamp it down.
He however said, government has over the years, adopted comprehensive policies to reduce poverty, increase access and improve the quality of education to ensure progress in dealing with child labour.
He also noted that, this year, the International Labour Organization celebrates 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The World Day Against Child Labour, therefore looks back on progress achieved over a 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labour since its founding in 1919.
Objectively, WDACL is also looking forward towards UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, set by the international community calling for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025.
Mr. Wireku Brobbey, explained that, child labour affects the transition paths of youths and their eventual employment outcomes, thus minimising their opportunities for decent work in adulthood, while approximating them to poverty.
The 2017 global estimates of child labour showed that, a total of 152 million children where 64 million are girls and 88 million boys are in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide.
Nearly half of all those in child labour which is 73 million children, are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development.
Mr. Brobbey, further underscored the need for stakeholders to re-dedicate their efforts to fight for the right of all children, as well as rescuing them from fields where there are many hazards and rather support them to follow their dreams to bring out their potentials.
He emphasized that, “When we encourage our children to follow their dreams, it boosts their confidence and make them goal achievers.”
To this end, he charged the media to champion the fight against child labour in the country. Saying, “The role of the media to protect children from all dangers particularly child labour, is non-negotiable.”
On his part, Mr. Mike Arthur, the National Coordinator of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), said, ICI was developing cutting edge innovative strategies to address forced and child labour. “These structures are being developed at the community level to help with the prevention of worst forms of child labour and reduce the exposure of children to risk of harm on farms.”
“Our child labour monitoring and remediation system seeks to ensure effective peer education in the communities, collecting data and promoting remediation of identified children at risk or in child labour in the communities,” he added.
Mr. Arthur, further noted that, ICI very well understands what it means to be a child living in a condition where there is no hope for the future. Saying, “Every child has dreams which must be developed and harnessed for their tomorrow. As adults we once dreamt of becoming who we are today, and through hard work, dedication, discipline and focus, a good number of us are able to get this far.”
He also said, ICI always puts children first and this explains why since 2007 their work has focused on programmers which leads to promoting holistic child protection in cocoa-growing communities across the country.
Adding that, “Our mandate does stop at just educating the communities, parents and children, we are also very active in the facilitation of community action plans and the strengthening of community child protection committees, child protection clubs, community service groups and school management committee.”
Meanwhile, it was announced that, the 2019, June 12 WDACL, will be observed at Effiduase in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
Key among dignitaries at the launch were; representatives from the Ghana Christian Council, Dr. Isaac Karikari, (President of CLaRM-net)/MLNR, Mr. Soledad Giovanni, Project Director of ILO, representatives from the Ghana Employers’ Association, Country Director of World Cocoa Foundation, and many others.