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World Day Against Child Labor 2018: A Glance at Nepal and Global Scenario
Child labor is still a concern for Nepal despite the existence of relevant enforcement laws and regulations by Nepal Government
The world nations are observing the World Day Against Child Labor (WDACL) on June 12, 2018.
Marking WDACL 2018 under the theme of ‘Generation Safe and Healthy’, the International Labor Organization (ILO) called on the world nations to ensure safety of young workers and end child labor by 2025.
“About 73 million children are in hazardous work – almost half of the 152 million children aged 5-17 still in child labor. Many suffer lifelong physical and psychological consequences. Their very lives can be at risk,” ILO said in an official release.
“Urgent action is needed to ensure no child under the age of 18 is in hazardous child labor,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
According to ILO, many of those children under child labor are toiling in mines and fields, factories and homes, exposed to pesticides and other toxic substances, carrying heavy loads or working long hours.
Among the world countries witnessing the child labor menace, Nepal is one country that has some alarming scenario with regard to child in hazardous work.
A Glance at Child Labor in Nepal
Employment has been one major concern for Nepal which is even today impacting thousands of its populace to move abroad for employment and career opportunities.
While this is the case of those who can afford to live abroad, what about those struggling locally? Here is where the concern of child labor arise.
(Source: US Department of Labor)
Many of the working men and women population of Nepal were observed to have engaged their children in some form of child labor to generate required incomes to run the family.
Some of the Nepali sectors known for their prevalence of child labor include agriculture, industry and services, among others.
Agriculture: Farming, herding and feeding livestock
Industry: Brick Kilns, quarrying and collecting sand & stones, carpet weaving, textile production
Services: Domestic work such as transportation, portering and collecting recyclable waste, working in hotels, restaurants and teashops, among others
There are also some worst forms of child labor like human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, among others.
According to the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs, around 37.2 percent of Nepali children in the age group of 5-14 years are engaged in child labor, while 39.1 percent (7-14 years) are engaged in both schooling & work, and 91.7 percent (5-14 years) are under schooling
This situation is being observed across the country despite the enforcement of relevant laws and regulations such as Minimum Age for Work, Prohibition of Forced Labor, Minimum Age for Hazardous Work and Prohibition of Forced Labor, among others in place as part of the country’s legal framework.
Matter of Serious Concern
According to ILO, there is almost no reduction in the number of children aged 5-11 in child labor and the number has in fact gone up.
“Although the overall number of children in hazardous work has decreased over the past years, progress has been limited to older children in hazardous work. Between 2012 and 2016, there was almost no reduction in the number of children aged 5 to 11 in child labor, and the number of these most vulnerable, youngest children in hazardous work actually increased. This is unacceptable,” reads ILO statement.
On the other hand, the United Nations reports that “the returns on the investment in ending child labor are incalculable.”
Plan of Action: 107th International Labor Conference
Addressing the world nations at the 107th Session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva on June 8, 2018, Ryder urged the world governments to prioritize special programs against child labor.
Pointing out at economic concerns as the root cause of child labor, he pitched on the need for an immediate attention to unpaid family work in agriculture along with the global supply chains.
In this regard, he also pledged ILO’s all-round support to all the governments in curbing the menace of child labor, globally.
The Geneva conference marked the 20th anniversary of the #GlobalMarchAgainstChildLabor that first began in June 1998 when hundreds of marchers including children gathered at the stage of the International Labor Conference. This eventually resulted in the adoption of the ILO Convention No. 182 on ‘Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor’ in 1999.
According to ILO estimates, all forms of child labor will not be eradicated by 2025 and the world will still see 121 million children in forced labor situations despite all the planned measures
In this regard, the world labor body says, “We must move much faster if we are to honor our commitment to ending child labor in all its forms by 2025.”