The Fiji Times »Say No to Child Labor – The Future of Our Children
By MATIN KARIMLI, SHELDON YETT
Child labor remains a persistent problem in today’s world, including in the Pacific Islands, putting children’s futures at risk.
Every child has a fundamental right to protection, as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “The right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and to perform any work which may be dangerous or interfere with the child’s life. education or harm the health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development of the child.
Child labor has devastating consequences for a child’s education, skills acquisition and ability to overcome the vicious cycle of poverty, incomplete education and reduced employment opportunities.
Additional economic shocks and school closings caused by COVID-19, combined with income losses among vulnerable families, put children at even greater risk.
The United Nations has declared 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor; a milestone of the year being the launch of the critical Child Labor: Global Estimates 2020, Trends and Way Forward on 10 June.
This is the very first joint ILO-UNICEF report on child labor estimates and data forms.
Children are vulnerable to child labor due to poverty, weak education and social protection systems, social norms that encourage child labor, and weak legislation, enforcement and child protection law and services.
With the impact of the global pandemic putting more children at risk of exacerbating child labor, the report urges governments and international development organizations to prioritize investments in programs, such as social protection, that can help families avoid making this choice in the first place.
Children who work are at risk of physical and mental harm. Child labor compromises children’s education, restricts their rights, limits their future opportunities and leads to vicious intergenerational cycles of poverty and child labor. ILO and UNICEF in the Pacific call for:
1. Adequate social protection for all, including universal family allowances;
2. Increased spending on quality education and schooling for all children, including children who were out of school before COVID-19;
3. Investing in child protection systems, including prevention, early intervention and response;
4. Promotion of viable work for adults, so that families do not have to resort to children helping to generate family income; and
5. End harmful gender and other social norms and discrimination that influence child labor.
The measurement, awareness and political commitment project aimed at accelerating the fight against child labor and forced labor (MAP16 project) is a development cooperation project managed by the International Labor Organization and funded by the Department American Labor.
Fiji is one of the countries implementing the MAP16 project with the support of the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, the Fiji Federation of Trade and Employers and the Congress of Trade Unions and Unions. from Fiji.
To date, this work has included building the knowledge base on child labor through consultation with stakeholders at national, industry and community levels, and sensitization of communities by collaborating with key stakeholders who work with them. the children.
The work is supported by Alliance 8.7, a global partnership to end child labor, forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery.
The Alliance is actively working with 22 “pioneer countries”, including Fiji, and more than 200 partner organizations to accelerate action, share knowledge and implement innovative solutions on the ground.
It is important to develop these solutions with schools, families, local authorities and organizations while listening to the voices of children.
In Fiji and the Pacific Islands, UNICEF is supporting the strengthening of the multisectoral child protection system to prevent and respond to neglect, abuse and exploitation of children.
UNICEF works with ministries responsible for social protection, education and health, the judiciary and the police, to develop and implement interagency legislation, policies, plans, procedures and guidelines. in matters of child protection.
UNICEF supports the training of social workers, health professionals, teachers, police and justice officials on the knowledge and skills necessary to work with children in need of care and protection and their families. .
Working with vulnerable families and ensuring they have access to counseling, social protection programs and other services is a key strategy to prevent and respond to child labor. UNICEF also supports community-based programs aimed at addressing child-damaging social norms, promoting parenting skills and building the capacity of communities to protect their children.
UNICEF is supporting a multiple indicator cluster survey that will provide data on child labor.
The International Year offers a tremendous opportunity to bring together partners, learn from each other and put into practice proven and innovative measures to protect children’s rights.
In Fiji, eleven pledges have been received to date from the Fijian government, unions, academic institutions, NGOs and more, demonstrating an encouraging commitment on the part of Fiji.
It is also reassuring to note that one of the Fijian government’s four commitments includes finalizing the National Child Labor Policy in 2021.
There can be no one-size-fits-all solutions; responses need to be tailored to the very diverse environments in which child labor still occurs.
Every action – whether taken by a government or an individual – helps to lay the foundation for a world in which children enjoy their childhood.
We encourage you to join us and take action to end child labor now.
- MATIN KARIMLI is the ILO Director for the Pacific and SHELDON YETT is the UNICEF Representative for the Pacific. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this journal.