Two years ago, 195 countries meeting in general assembly at the UN proclaimed 2021 “the international year for the elimination of child labor”. There was an urgent need to get the 152 million working children to go to school, with the hope of consolidating, or even accelerating, the efforts undertaken which made it possible to reduce by 100 million in twenty years the number of working children.
The new global estimates, published by the ILO and Unicef this week, have unfortunately come to contradict this trend. For the first time in twenty years, progress has slowed down significantly in Asia, Latin America and our continent, with child labor even sharply increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to conflict, poverty and health crises. and humanitarian.
The world now has 160 million children forced to work, without having yet measured the second wave effect of the pandemic and school closings.
Child labor has increased sharply in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to conflict, poverty, health and humanitarian crises.
One in ten children in the world thus shares the fate of Faiza, 8, who every day has to help her parents, daily construction workers in Nepal, to be able to eat. That’s the life of 12-year-old George, whose school in Uganda closed following the pandemic and who now works from six in the morning to seven in the evening selling fish and bringing some money back to his home. family. It is also that of Solomon, 14, who works twelve hours a day in a gold mine in Ghana where he has to carry, day after day, heavy loads unbearable for his young body.
Half between the ages of 5 and 11, these boys and girls work mostly in commercial and subsistence agriculture, but also in mining, fishing, construction and textiles. Deprived of school, of the freedom to choose their future, they are condemned to great precariousness, like that of their parents. Engaged in dangerous work or illicit trafficking, victims of forced labor, prostitution or even child soldiers, these children are in danger.
But child labor cannot and must not be inevitable. Convention 182 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) calls for the eradication of all these unacceptable forms of child exploitation. A historic and unprecedented fact, it has been ratified by all 187 ILO member countries. Clearly, the prohibition of child labor by national laws is the essential next step, but it is not enough. Because it is the effective application of international and national texts that we must collectively get down to.
The responsibility for the fight against child labor cannot rest on the shoulders of the countries of the South alone. France and Europe must act together so that our production and consumption models, the activity of our multinational companies all along their supply chains, our trade agreements and our public purchases are free from recourse to l exploitation of children.
Convention 182 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) calls for the eradication of all these unacceptable forms of child exploitation.
To this end, France is committed to achieving the status of “pioneer country” in the fight against child labor, forced labor, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.
Under the aegis of the ILO, the French Government is joining forces with economic players, social partners, NGOs and associations, to put an end to these scourges. In this mobilization, France is counting on the support of Alliance 8.7, a global partnership serving the United Nations strategy for sustainable development and dedicated to this cause.
Let us allow every child, wherever they are on the planet, to live their childhood to the fullest. Their future is our responsibility.
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